A Nymph Returns to the Sea (Alexander Southerland, P.I., #5) by Douglas Lumsden - Book Review

Write on: Thu, 01 Dec 2022 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 193

The Alex Southerland series is one of the very best urban fantasy detective series out there, and I'm always keen to jump into the latest installment.

What to Expect

Alex is in a bad place in his life, sinking into a bottle of rye after a bad breakup. In an effort to crawl out he's looking for work, and when no one would hire him he drums up a tenuous case for himself. Which, naturally, ends up pitting him against crime organisations, intelligence agencies, and living forces of nature.

What I liked

As always, I love the world Lumsden has crafted, with its detailed alt-history and unique setting and mythology coming to life. I love Alex as a detective, operating along the hard-boiled unwritten rules (though much better adapted to the modern world and modern readers!) and never mind his extra abilities.

This series epitomises blending the genres in the best of ways, and it's great to see Lumsden's style maturing and exploring literary devices for an immersive and engaging story.

What to be aware of

This is book five in the series, with many references to previous events and characters previously introduced. While each ‘case’ is more or less independent, I’d recommend reading this excellent series from the start.

Felix's Review

Felix is not unfamiliar with the dangerous allure of alcohol, and bad breakups. Been there, done that, and he'd be happy to take Alex on a journey of redemption (starting with a pub-crawl, of course). A kindred spirit, he appreciate his doggedness to serve his client and solve the mystery, even when facing powerful authorities and supernatural forces.


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. If you haven’t read it before, start with A Troll Walks Into A Bar.

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.

Last modified on Thursday, 01 December 2022 20:53

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