Helmut Saves the World is a funny debut novella with old fashioned magical investigation at its core. While short, Matt Sheehan creates an alternate reality which is neither pretentious nor overly complicated. Sheehan delivers a fast paced read that never delivers a dull moment.
My name is Helmut Haase and I’m one half of the Fog City Detective Agency—specifically, the half that pays all the bills. My partner, Shamus O’Sheehan, mostly drinks beer and naps. I keep him around because he’s my friend, but also because he’s a Druid. I’m just a detective, and there are plenty of those in Wudong, the Confederacy of Hesperia. There’s not another Druid for miles.
We had it pretty good until the day we met Alek Pallas. He hired us to track down a thieving employee, and even though something was off, his big fat check was too much to pass up. But the man we found wasn’t what we were led to believe, and neither was Alek.
I’m talking shape-shifters, fallen angels and a conspiracy involving the vicious Cretan Empire. At least we didn’t die. Hope that doesn’t ruin the story.
Why am I telling you all this? Someday I’d like some credit for saving the world. Maybe not the entire world, and maybe not alone, but I still deserve a medal. And perhaps a cash prize.
Sheehan effortlessly falls into the narrative place of Helmut Haase, the cad detective who is timeless and brash. This perspective helped keep a great pace, and I couldn’t put Helmut Saves the World down until I was finished. Helmut is the unlikeliest of protoganists, he’s charming, good looking, talented, and not in the slightest bit humble. He often talks about his taste in women and how they all drool over him. Frankly, he’s the perfect guy to want to punch. That’s in part what makes the story interesting. Helmut is by no means a likeable guy so the reader is driven to see if something bad happens to him.
The other half of the detective agency, Shamus, doesn’t disappoint either. He’s much more likeable. The druid is a reluctant Bohemian hipster who drinks consistently and has a sexy Irish accent. Sheehan doesn’t come out and say the last bit, but I am quite confident of it and not simply because of my ex (whom Shamus reminds me of). This in and of itself is interesting.
Sheehan’s role as Helmut makes him utterly biased and it helps the reader come to their own conclusions faster. After all, there’s only so many times you can hear a guy complain about his buddy’s floppy hair before you start wondering if he’s jealous. Helmut feels real because you’re able to question his opinions and version of the story. This in and of itself is what makes Helmut Saves the World.
The world of Sheehan’s creation isn’t uninteresting either. There are some corny name changes like Shamus and Helmust being Eirish instead of Irish. That being said, there are enough interesting changes to make it interesting. The city names may change but we are given geographical cues so we’re not mistaken. Some cities see a cultural shift such as New York becoming New Athens and San Francisco showing a decidedly Chinese influence. There is a touched upon war between Empire and Alliance and although I wasn’t quite sure who was involved in the war, I was incredibly intrigued. Put simply, Sheehan lays some great groundwork for more stories in this universe, enticing me to read more.
Sheehan does Urban Fantasy well, setting it in a familiar time period without ever specifying. He makes quirky jokes about hipsters taking over the universe right before a showdown with an angel. Sheehan’s plot choices and overall tone have quickly made me a fan of Helmut Saves the World and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.