Dead Wolf in a Hat

Dead Wolf in a Hat illustration by Ken Meyer Jr
Illustration by Ken Meyer Jr, from Realms of Fantasy

In Dead Wolf in a Hat, my interdimensional gumshoe gets tangled up in a mess of murder and lycanthropy. Naturally, there’s a rain-soaked femme fatale keen to cloud his judgement, not to mention a bunch of angry Titans who just want their casino to turn a profit. Trouble is, it’s not just blackjack they’re playing.

Dead Wolf in a Hat is the second of The String City Mysteries, a series of fantasy noir detective novelettes that form a prelude to my interdimensional thriller novel String City. I wrote the story after browsing through a pile of werewolf research left over from another project. In it I found an old German story about the boxenwolf, a werewolf that only transforms when it wears a special belt. That got me thinking about what other clothing accessories werewolves might use to control their animal urges. Shoes? Neck-ties? Hats, maybe? When I brought a little Greek myth into this story, I realised the genre collision I’d created was bigger than I thought. That’s when I realised the world I’d sketched in The Wooden Baby was set to grow like Topsy.

“I recommend the story for its casual mastery of the detective sub-genre dialogue and the new ways in which werewolves operate in this world” – TangentOnline

Dead Wolf in a Hat by Graham Edwards was first published in the October 2005 edition of Realms of Fantasy. It was reprinted in the Baen Books anthology The Dragon Done It. Illustration by Ken Meyer Jr.

Extract from Dead Wolf in a Hat

Soon I heard a rumbling sound, getting louder all the time. The wind gusted, blasting into me from the same direction as the approaching smear of light. Then I heard a whistle, long and glutinous, and suddenly it was on me, an immense iron lobster with two hundred wheels, all interconnected with rods and dripping sinews and sprung cables and grinding cylinders. Brakes engaged and the mammoth train screeched to a halt. Steam erupted from a thousand greasy sphincters, oil oozed through toothsome grilles, chains with links as thick as my arm cracked like whips and flaming coals spilled from a great brazier perched high behind the funnel, half a mile above my head.

And there I stood, just as amazed and daunted as I had been the first – and last – time, before the Search Engine.

There was a sudden movement, halfway up, right behind the boiler. Something emerged, a little like a head, a little like a shadow.

‘You comin’ up?’ The voice rolled down to me like syrup, with an afterbite of cheap Bourbon.

A ladder made from what looked like human thigh-bones rattled down in its wake. Reluctantly, I started to climb.

‘I need to find something,’ I shouted when I was nearly at the top.

‘Don’t they all!’ screamed the shadow. Inside the great cylindrical boiler, something crashed like an ocean liner hitting an iceberg.

The Search Engine started to move again, quickly, all at once. The ladder was hurled backwards; grimly I clung on, crawling hand-over-hand along the last few rungs until something like a claw grabbed my shoulder and hauled me inside the cab.

The String City Mysteries

The String City Mysteries by Graham Edwards

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