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Literature / Fifty Feet of Trouble

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It's 1955 Los Angeles. Monsters rule the world.

The last human detective in the City of Angels is looking for a missing girl, a missing woman, and a missing toad, not necessarily in that order. As the title suggests, in this installment, Nick Moss starts running into the larger monsters in the B-movie canon.

Fifty Feet of Trouble is the sequel of City of Devils.

Fifty Feet of Trouble provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of both film noir and monster movies.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Pretty much a direct reference to the original.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The relatively benign park ranger, Harry Foote.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three most prominent female characters are the giantess Pilar O'Heaven (blonde), the siren (brunette albeit with green highlights) Serendipity Sargasso, and the witch Hexene Candlemas (redhead). Pilar is the untouchable pinup queen and tourist attraction, Serendipity the loyal and starstruck secretary, and Hexene the pugnacious hex slinger. This trope also shows up with the Salem Sisters, the close harmony group/witch coven, with Hyacinth, Verbena, and Lily respectively (in the roles of crone, mother, and maiden).
  • Brain Food: Lampshaded, as the zombies of the world can only say "brains" with different inflections.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the book, Hexene goes off on a sabbatical with her coven to recover their powers after the loss of their familiars.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: The blob monster Gelatin Keyes knows lots of jokes and delivers them with the proper energy. The problem is that he never matches the setup to the right punchline.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: The jaguar people technically could, but as soon as they get... ahem... ready, they turn into two-hundred pound killing machines.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Nick Moss is a nervous, stuttering, weasel of a man. He was also a paratrooper in WWII, remained human through the Night War, and is shockingly resourceful when backed into a corner (which is constantly).
  • Cute Monster Girl: Serendipity Sargasso, the siren secretary, is pretty darn cute. Assuming she doesn't smile.
  • Cute Witch: Hexene Candlemas is a subversion, what with her hex-dealing, habit of punctuating curses with obscene gestures, and saturnine toad familiar Escuerzo.
  • Defective Detective: Nick Moss isn't an impressive man.
  • Detective Animal: Lou Garou and Phil Moon, the wolfmen LAPD.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Keyes. He's really friendly, though. And knows tons of jokes.
  • Everybody Smokes: Subverted with Nick's pathological inability to smoke.
  • Familiar: Every witch has one of these, from Hexene's toad Escuerzo to the songbirds of the Salem Sisters.
  • Fantastic Noir: City of Devils is a noir, with all the supporting characters being monsters from b-movies or legend.
  • Fantastic Racism: Humans are the downtrodden minority. Monsters call us "meatsticks," and humans have the term "snatcher" for monsters in general. This is expanded with racism among the monsters, with vampires being called leeches, werewolves and wolfmen being dogs, gill men being fishies, and so on.
  • Fiery Redhead: Hexene Candlemas.
  • Genre-Busting: It's a noir plot, there are monsters from horror fiction, it's urban and fantastic, and it's a comedy.
  • Giant Woman: She's right there on the cover. Pilar herself.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Hexene Candlemas and Lily Salem are both redheads. Of course, they're also maidens in their respective witch covens. It's averted, since Nick doesn't get either one of them.
  • Hot Witch: The Salem Sisters are all extremely hot.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Dr. Uriah Bluddengutz is revealed to be JJ and Aggie Brooks's biological father, who was believed to be killed at the tail end of WWII, but was actually taken and turned by another mad scientist.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Uriah Bluddengutz. Mad scientists are implied to be monsters like any other.
  • Meaningful Name: A central part of the novel is that, once turned into a monster, the new monster chooses a "rebirth name." These names are inevitably meaningful, or at least cool sounding. Many of the monsters have specific naming conventions. The sequel adds characters like the giantess Pilar O'Heaven, the bogeyman Lurkimer Closett, the mad scientist Uriah Bluddengutz, the blob Gelatin Keyes, the clown Bobo Gigglesworth, and the jaguar people Percy Katz and Leona Pryde.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Nick is hired to find some missing people and stumbles onto the creation of Godzilla.
  • Monster Clown: The Reverend Bobo Gigglesworth.
  • Monster Mash: The book features giants, werewolves, gremlins, crawling eyes, blob monsters, mummies, sasquatches, robots, doppelgangers, phantoms, killer clowns, sirens, gill men, jaguar people, bogeymen, and many, many more.
  • Mundane Solution: The various monsters all have relatively normal weaknesses and phobias that humans use to drive them away. Jaguar people with holy symbols and cats, clowns with makeup remover, zombies with salt, sasquatch with cameras, and so on.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Jaguar People transform when sexually aroused (and they get aroused by nearly everything) and fly around in steppe pyramids.
  • Pedophile Priest: Reverend Gigglesworth, in the sense that a monster's drive to turn humans is very nearly sexual, and he was targeting young Aggie Brooks before her abduction.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Pretty much the only reason why the other monsters allow mad scientists to stick around is that, as potentially dangerous as they are, it's in the nature of their madness to always forget at least one crucial detail that ends up derailing their plans.
  • Sequel Hook: The end of the book has Nick's next case coming through the door: the LAPD shanghaiing Nick for his next job.
  • Sexy Secretary: Serendipity Sargasso. She's definitely cute, but when she smiles and shows off her huge mouthful of needle-sharp teeth, she becomes more scary than sexy.
  • Ship Tease: Nick has a bit with both Serendipity and Hexene. He consciously pushes himself away from thinking about Ser that way, though, because of their working relationship. At the end of the book he tries to ask Hexene on a date, but she needs to go on a sabbatical to recover her powers.
  • Shot in the Ass: Nick Moss was shot in the ass during World War II.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Hexene Candlemas, as the maiden in a witch coven, has red hair and green eyes.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Mira Mirra the doppelganger takes over stalking duties from Sam Haine the pumpkinhead.
  • You Are Too Late: Nick puts the pieces together, figuring out how all of his outstanding cases are parts of the same plot, but he's unable to get to the culprits in time to stop them from turning Aggie Brooks into a kaiju or save the Candlemas familiars. The only full victory he gets is rescuing Corinna Lacks and bringing her home human.