A Night Owl Slips into a Diner: A Noir Urban Fantasy Novel (Alexander Southerland, P.I., Book 4) by Douglas Lumsden - Book Review

Write on: Wed, 15 Dec 2021 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 573

I loved the Southerland urban fantasy series from the moment I first came across it, so obviously jumped on this one as soon as I could.

What to Expect

Expect Alex to get dragged into another supernatural adventure, this one involving more of the spirit world. What starts as a good old-fashioned industrial espionage, soon involves secretive government agencies, state secrets, and otherworldly spirits.

We get exposed to more of Alex's complex world, a unique blend of urban fantasy and alternative history, where immortal dragons lords run the world and history is based on Native American cultures.

What I liked

I like Southerland as a person, a classical noir detective. Lumsden does an excellent job in catching all the vibe and style of the genre from Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett to Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant - but without falling into tropes or the bad sides (like chauvinism) of the genres. All his characters are well drawn, human beings of various dispositions.

I love the setting as well, a blend of contemporary urban fantasy (where magic can be combined with computers for supernatural encryption and new kinds of technological gizmos), on a back drop of alternative history steeped in Meso-and North-American native cultures and mythologies.

What to be aware of

This is book four in the series. While each 'case' in the previous books was more or less independent, this one draws heavily on past events and characters. I'd strongly recommend reading this excellent series from the start.

Felix's Review

If there was a club for private detectives specialising in the occult, Felix and Alex would have hit it off immediately. As such, I'm sure that they'll enjoy visiting the same seedy bars and sharing many a drink together (rye for Alex, spiced wine for Felix). Their methods are similar (think fast, act faster, reflect before it's too late), as are their cases. While Felix didn't quite get all the technical bits of the modern world, he quite approves of Alex's handling of supernatural entities.


If you're a fan of Urban Fantasy detectives, this series is an absolute must read. Lumsden's writing stands out as unique and refreshing.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.


Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr