Dahlia Moss

Created by Max Wirestone

Imagine if Veronica Mars was a regular on TV’s The Big Bang Theory, and all that tough-girl chic and hands-on savvy was replaced by a eyes-averted, downward-gazing gamer geek in dire financial straits, and you’ve pretty much got a snapshot of DAHLIA MOSS.

It’s the cash flow problems (she’s got $17.23 in her bank account) that first set the self-effacing twenty-something nerd off on a career as a detective, despite any particular skills or knowledge. In her debut, The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss (2015), she’s approached at a nautically-themed costume party by Jonah, her roommate’s friend, who’s dressed like a sea captain, complete with a fake beard and a plastic bubble pipe. The good captain wants Dahlia to retrieve something called The Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing, which is soon revealed to be a weapon in Zoth, a multi-player online videogame, stolen from Jonah’s account.

Sounds crazy, right?

Even crazier is that  Jonah’s convinced Dahlia is the only one who can get it back for him, by acting as the go-between between the thief and him. Based entirely on the wild misconception that Dahlia has some experience as an investigator, although it turns out she simply answered phones as a temp for a couple of days at a a detective agency. But then he waves an envelope full of twenties, a thousand bucks worth, in Dahlia’s face.

Ding! Ding!

To her credit, Dahlia thinks it’s all “incredibly dumb.” But she’s desperate, and remembers something her Grandma once told her: “A fool and his money are a golden opportunity.”

Of course, things immediately go splat, and Dahlia soon finds herself investigating a real-life (not digital) murder. She also inadvertently finds herself a whole new career, as a reluctant sleuth fumbling and bumbling her way through a series of comic, pop-culture-ridden misadventures, all with titles capturing perfectly this millennial mystery maven’s particular brand of low self-esteem. Astonishing Mistakes? The Questionable Behavior? What’s next? The Colossal Fuck-Ups?

I’d tag her an amateur sleuth, except that the perennially poor Dahlia somehow always ends up involved in these things because somebody — a friend, a friend of a friend, a boss — has waved some money in front of her. And the Private Eye Writers of America seem to agree with me — her third outing, The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss (2018), landed her a Shamus nomination.

The author is, according to his Amazon bio, “a writer, pugilist, and trained assassin. He lives in Lawrence, KS with his husband, son, and an extremely suspicious dog.”

UNDER OATH

  • “Revel in the geekery of The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss… Dahlia Moss is all of us.”
    — B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
  • “This book is a barrel of fun.”
    — Charlaine Harris
  • “A hilarious read sure to delight mystery lovers and gamers alike. With unforgettable characters and a stand-out heroine, Dahlia kept me guessing until the very end. A laugh-out-loud gem of a book.”―N.K. Traver, author of Duplicity

NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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