Martin Scott two takes of my favourite genres, detective and fantasy fiction, mixes them with a pinch of satire and social comment, and comes up with a series based around Thraxas - a cynical, heavy drinking gumshoe with a beer gut who plies his trade in the mystical city of Turai. Much of the city is a skanky hell-hole of scoundrels and cheats, and Thraxas lives in the grimiest quarter. He's a disrespected ex-soldier with a doubtful past and a gambling habit he can't shake. And thrown into the "Everybody Hates Thraxas" mix is Makri, his only friend, a multi-racial Elf-Human-Orc whom Thraxas has to constantly defend against Human/Elf prejuidice, but only verbally, since Makri is a tough-girl ex-gladiator with a mean line in weaponry.
On the face of it, none of this should work and it took me several goes to get into it - but I'm so glad I persevered. Thraxas is a blast. A comic adventure full of dark humour and snappy one-liners. Some of the jokes come at you like a clown in a tutu they're so obvious, but in general the humour is wry and ribald, and Thraxas is a really likeable 'asshole'. His platonic relationship with the vibrant and moody Makri is well drawn, you really believe in their friendship, and their caseload is a busy mix of light-weight capers and darker more gruesome adventures. In this outing there's a drug bust to handle, the rescue of a not so innocent princess, and struggles with angry warrior-monks who fuel some great jokes.
There are eight books in the series so far and they're definitely worth your time if you're into comic fantasy.