Kevin Hearne’s IRON DRUID CHRONICLES (IDC) series is immensely popular, partly because of the Iron Druid’s hilarious canine side-kick, Oberon the Irish Wolfhound. The IDC novels are especially good in audio format, thanks to Luke Daniel’s amazing performance. His characterization of Oberon is particularly excellent.
Hearne and Daniels have smartly capitalized on Oberon’s popularity by spinning off a delightful series of novellas that feature Oberon as the protagonist and narrator. You do not need to read these in publication order; each can stand alone. However, it’s helpful (but not at all necessary) to be caught up with the IDC novels since some of the characters (e.g. Orlaith and Starbuck) are introduced in those books.
The first of OBERON’S MEATY MYSTERIES was last year’s The Purloined Poodle in which Atticus and Oberon caught an evil dog-napper. The second MEATY MYSTERY is the recently released The Squirrel on the Train. Again Oberon and Atticus stumble across a crime — this time it’s a murder mystery that involves a doppelganger, a shapeshifter, and some delicious evidence.
The mystery isn’t super complex but makes sense for a story narrated by a dog in which tracking and using other olfactory cues is a major part of their crime-solving strategy. My main critique is that it’s really hard to believe that Atticus and Oberon would be allowed into crime scenes and then be so sloppy with evidence. Detective Ibarra knows them, but she’s got to be bending all sorts of rules and risking her job when she gives them information and accepts their help. This part of the story is far-fetched.
Another minor critique is that the bit with the Nazis feels shoehorned in — like Hearne felt the need to address current cultural issues in his book. I hate Nazis, too, but one of the reasons I read Hearne’s books are to escape real life for a while, so a sudden reminder in a fantasy story that Nazis exist in America today was unpleasant. But that’s me and other readers may feel very differently.
These little issues are easy to forgive when the story is so entertaining. The best part, of course, is Oberon with his exuberant love of meat and gravy, his inability to judge time intervals, his hilarious thoughts about life, and his extreme distrust of squirrels. (It turns out that maybe Oberon is right about the squirrels…)
Subterranean Press, bless their hearts, is publishing OBERON’S MEATY MYSTERIES and you can purchase The Squirrel on the Train in hardcover or Kindle editions. But if you’re an audio reader, you must listen to the audio version published by the author himself and read by the amazing Luke Daniels.