Welcome to the latest installment of The Shambling Guide to New York City Listen-a-Long, covering Chapter 5 of Mur Lafferty’s The Shambling Guide to New York City. As always, before I get into the write-up, a warning, that I’ll repeat each episode, that the discussion here is oh-so-spoilerific, so if that’s a concern, pop over and take the less-than-half-an-hour each to listen to the podcast episodes first. On to…
The Shambling Guide to New York City: Chapter Five
by Mur Lafferty
Runtime: 18 minutes
In the intro this week, Mur recaps the release day fun, from her guest post at John Scalzi’s Whatever to the glowing review from Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing, and of course her own excitement at, hey, her new book is out! On to…
When we last left off, Zoë was fresh off a library visit and a research reading binge into Lovecraft and other writers who may have been, after all, documenting reality, as it turns out. Rather than calling as scheduled, Zoë heads out to Underground Publishing’s offices to give Phil her decision on taking the job in person.
As chapter 5 opens, Zoë catches Phil by surprise by not just showing up — she takes the job. They discuss compensation — we get a bit about the various currencies available — and find that, in the office at least, her safety is “guaranteed” because the rest of the staff know that Phil would punish them, brutally. There are, however, no such guarantees when it comes to field work. Through the discussion of currencies we’re also introduced a bit more to Morgan, a water sprite, who lets Zoë know that “monster” is a pejorative; the correct term is “coterie”.
While her salary is quite nice, Underground Publishing doesn’t exactly offer medical, dental, or a managed 401k plan. So, a phone call to HR for previous job (to extend health insurance via COBRA) reveals some more … eep!! … details of her former boss’ policewoman wife; Zoë hiding in her house as said wife and a few of her closet co-workers stomp around. So, here we have a pretty good source of Zoë’s paranoia: calling 9-1-1 and telling them who you are, and they just hang up on you, might just make you feel a teensy bit unsafe.
The next day, her job search finally over, and her first day of work still a ways away, Zoë times her morning commute from Brooklyn, has breakfast and coffee and lingers at Bakery Under Moonlight, and spies a new poster for the grand opening of a new Chinese restaurant. Feeling up for some field research, and perhaps for some noodles, she finds that it’s definitely a “coterie” venue. And who should walk in and seat herself at Zoë’s table, and welcome herself to Zoë’s lunch, than one Granny Good Mae? We get Granny Good Mae’s zombie hunting and CIA backstory and find out that Zoë really needs a talisman if she wants to survive for very long, out and about amongst the coterie. And also, apparently for Granny Good Mae to become her personal Defense versus the Dark Arts — er, coterie — professor.
Zoë sets in for an evening of wine and research. One of these may be a better decision than the other.
Excerpt: Financial District and Harbor Islands, Places of Note, in which we learn that the Statue of Liberty is actually the sarcophagus of a great French demon, erected as a warning.
So. What did we learn here? We learned about hell notes and blood coins, and the even more nebulous currency of favors; we got to know Morgan; we found out that Zoë’s ex-boss’ wife is, er, the jealous type. We also got some of Granny Good Mae’s backstory, finding out that, indeed, she isn’t just a fairly crazy homeless person. Chapter 6 is coming Thursday — as for me, I didn’t want to wait week to week to find out where this was going, so I picked up the audiobook on Tuesday and, er, am already waiting for the next book. But I will be keeping up the Listen-a-Long series, so keep tuning into the podcast and come on back for the recap right here.