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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Book Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
by Paul Krueger
Publisher: Quirk Books
ASIN: B00STNC7KG ISBN: 9781594747595
June 7, 2016
Bailey Chen is fresh out of college with all the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and an awkward relationship with Zane, the old friend she kinda-sorta hooked up with during high school.

But when Zane introduces Bailey to his monster-fighting bartender friends, her demons become a lot more literal. It turns out evil creatures stalk the city streets after hours, and they can only be hunted with the help of magically-mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will all of these powers be enough for Bailey to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? And what will she do when the safety of a “real world” job beckons?

Recent Ivy League college graduate Bailey Chen is currently tending a bar managed by her childhood friend/crush, Zane. Unlike in her childhood, Zane now dresses in suits, has a girlfriend, Mona (who is a bartender at another bar), and seems to manage being an adult well. Bailey has moved back in with her parents in Chicago and is angling for an interview at a company that produces a music app. Her career plans change when she accidentally discovers that the city's bartenders do much more than mix drinks. They also fight drunk-preying monsters, known as tremens, by using correctly mixed drinks that grant the drinker a particular superpower for a limited period of time. After she mixes herself a drink to enables her to kill a tremens herself, she finds that Zane’s uncle is, in fact, a senior member of this group, called the Alchemists. When he offers her the chance to drink something that will produce amnesia about their world, instead, she chooses to be trained as a tremens slayer.

Due to the tension between her and Zane’s girlfriend (Bailey has feelings for him), she is assigned a mentor, a blind veteran, Vincent, whose disability was caused by improperly mixing a Long Island Iced Tea. The drink is said to give its drinker possible immortality and much power. But when Bailey learns an owner of the app business she going to interview with is connected to Zane’s uncle, and that the uncle may be perfecting that drink himself, plus that it is the drink that has been drawing the ever increasing numbers of tremens to Chicago, she knows she must do something.

Besides a great story, the book includes 14 recipes from a book of ancient cocktail lore, with tongue-in-cheek explanations of their ingredients, historical and cultural origin, and the people responsible for inventing them. The novel is an original twist on how people get magical powers to fight demons. Suddenly, alcohol can cause more than a splitting headache the next morning after an all-night binge. Now it just might give your friendly neighborhood bartender abilities to kick demonic butt!

I give 4 ½ sheep for Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

Pamela Kinney

About the Author:

Paul Krueger is, down to the very bottom of his black little heart, a city rat. Raised in and around Chicago, he got his learning on in New York before scuttling off to Los Angeles, where he lives now.

His short fiction has appeared in the anthologies SWORD & LASER and NOIR RIOT. His debut novel, LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE, is due out in June of 2016 from Quirk Books. It’s about a secret society of bartenders who fight demons with alcohol-magic, and yes, it’s very much autobiographical.*

His non-writing hobbies include cooking, playing ukulele, Pathfinder, and boring strangers with long, involved stories about his cat. He’s also a musician, singing lead for the Adventure Time-themed punk band Lemonbadd.

If found, Paul should be returned to Ms. Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary, who is very patient with him.

*for a very loose/nonexistent value of “autobiographical”

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