Unleashed Magic: A Wizard in Bremen, Part Two: The Realm of False Gods

This title will be released March 20

Otto Schneider is sourly contemplating his future by purchasing decadent foodstuffs he normally avoids when his phone rings. Much to his astonishment, the caller is Chief Muller of the Bremen police, seeking his help in a new and especially grisly crime — and given what Otto recently experienced, he knows it must be awful.

It is. A pimp was disemboweled in an alley, just a few feet from his car, in what was clearly an otherworldly attack. Unlike the pigheaded Detective Inspector Schenk, Muller was convinced of supernatural threats by their previous case and realizes he needs Otto’s help to solve this murder.

Considerably more polite than when they last met, Muller introduces Otto to his teammates — headed by Schenk, they include Heike, the still-traumatized Klaus Nieswand, and two young detectives, Rugler and Moltz, along with an arrogant SIA lieutenant, Voss, who arrived before the murder was an hour old. Although Otto refuses to believe his new friend is capable of such savagery, Heike reminds Otto he has to consider Zachary, as he’s the only creature capable of such carnage that they know of in the area. However, Otto knows Zachary doesn’t consider himself a killer of humans — he previously surrendered to the SIA because he didn’t want to slaughter officers fighting his way out of an ambush — and is convinced another werewolf has to be responsible for the murders.

Otto is also struggling with ill health — he passes his condition off to Heike and his colleagues as a winter cold, but when he tries to visit his comatose wife, Kerstin, he’s stopped by the duty nurse and later stunned by what seems an improbable diagnosis by senior doctors. He eventually realizes what caused his condition, but that makes it no less shocking.

Meanwhile, the immortal realm is roiled — a demon enraged by a settlement brokered by Daniel invades the mortal world to wreak havoc on the family of his previous victim, determined to seize what he considers his property. Otto battles the situation into a stalemate until, much to his surprise, an apologetic Daniel appears to collect the fiend, which is when Otto recognizes that Katja was targeted because, like him twenty years earlier, she has budding magical powers. Katja asks Otto to train her, and he resolves to do what he can in the little time remaining.

Yet more killings emerge — another man associated with Bremen’s sex trade, as well as a lead — an elderly man was slaughtered in the Czech Republic city of Brno, and his niece, who lived with him, is missing and presumed dead. Additionally, another man and an unidentifiable young woman are found stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned vehicle, both clearly victims of the same killer. However, the uncle and niece have no association with the sex trade, unlike the other murders.

As male bodies multiply in Bremen, a clearly infuriated Schenk sends Otto and Heike on what he considers a humiliating diversion— the duo is dispatched to Brno to examine evidence and consult with the police, even though the information has been emailed to Schenk by the time their plane lands in the Czech Republic. Although the reserved mother of the missing girl begrudges their visit, Otto gleans enough evidence to point him toward the teenager, Zuzana, although he fears she may already be dead — his compass point indicates a body’s physical location, not its state of existence — and that leads him and Heike to Prague.

Although their consultation with a local police officer seems pointless, the information begins to bear fruit as the pair heads back to Bremen, and by the time they arrive at HQ, the wizard believes he and Heike are on the correct path. When he’s drawn into a literal battle between good and evil, part of his hunch is confirmed, but the rest of the revelation is so damning that Otto can’t believe he missed so many clues.

With time drawing down by the second, Otto refuses to surrender to despair, embracing a new aspect of existence while accepting what appears to be his own death. He is, in all respects, the archetypal Steve Higgs hero, a soldier in the war between good and evil, fighting on the front lines and putting the welfare of those he defends before his own.

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