The Fangs of Freelance continues with the entertaining story of Fred the Vampire Accountant and his friends who include alchemists, zombies, mages, therians, a dragon, a sentient house, and some unknowns. This stuff began and continues to be a fun riff on monster-type fantasy fiction. It also plays with the supernatural crime-fighting organization, which gets more attention in this book as we actually get to see Fred go through his interview and skills test to become a contract-based accountant for the Agency where Krystal (demon-contracted girlfriend) and Arch (who knows what for sure) both work. There’s also an emphasis in pretty much all the stories on Fred learning more about the supernatural world in terms of his newfound role as the head of the House of Fred (see previous installment for how that happened).
One thing that stood out to me is that there’s some more world and character development here than in previous volumes of the Fred series. We get to see Gideon in action and talk more than usual, there’s a chapter in Arch’s voice which gives some hints as to what he might be/can do as a supernatural being, we meet Amy’s mentor Cyndi and learn more about alchemist politics, we get some more info on June and her brother September who are half Fey (and have some backstory relevance to Krystal) and Fred runs into a couple of other vampires who give him some hints about how the majority of vampires actually exist, which is news to Fred since his sire Quin, who also makes an appearance, abandoned Fred after he was turned, and Fred made his own way by continuing mostly as he had done when he was alive and not undead. It’s actually kind of amazing how a set of five shortish stories can include so many little bits and pieces of interesting detail, and still be pretty coherent. I also appreciate that several to-be-continueds’ are set up, but every story has a concrete conclusion.
I have to admit after the first volume, The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales, I pretty much skipped the Preface because it was the same each time. This time, I re-read it and I was a little surprised at how the last lines really set up the context of the series: “You will eventually discover that under the movie stereotypes, imposed mystique, and overall inflated expectations, each and every one of us is at least a touch more boring than our images would indicate. And that is not a bad thing.” I would substitute the word ‘ordinary’ for boring, but otherwise this actually does seem to fit the general theme of the stories, albeit somewhat tongue in cheek.