Snyper: A Matter of Caliber is a 2012 urban fantasy noir novel by J. Merideth Harmon, published by Harmsway Press.
A Darker and Edgier take on the classical Eros/Cupid mythology, the divorced, alcoholic god of romance finds his magic
arrows bullets of love and hate pressed into service as a divine hit man. That is, until a major shooting assignment goes south and he quits Mount Olympus for a new life as Phil Bowman, a down-and-out private detective in New York's Lower East Side.
A free preview of the first five chapters is available here at getsnyper.com.
Snyper contains examples of:
- Alice Allusion: Phil and Persephone make several references during their first meeting. ("Guards. Garden. Blonde girl. It wasn't much of a leap.")
- Blessed with Suck: Because love "knows no bounds", Phil has a supernatural ability to go anywhere at will. Mostly, though, it just means not needing a key for the front door or a fare card to ride the subway.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ashley, Lauryn and Holly.
- City of Weirdos: Ashley takes her three-headed dog for walks on the streets of New York City. Few people notice, and if they do, she easily explains that it was rescued from an animal testing facility.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: As the goddess of wisdom, Athena's mind is shorting out from the information overload caused by modern technical progress. Then again, she was probably always a little batty to begin with.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Largely avoided. The togas and robes are present, of course, and Olympus has access to some futuristic tech thanks to Athena. But both Olympus and the Underworld have strong traditions (within varying degrees) of maintaining their ancient-style culture.
- Defective Detective: Phil's relationship tailspins have left him a (mostly) friendless, alcoholic recluse who only takes cases when people pay him enough to get out of bed.
- Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: Ash and her friends look and act roughly high school/college age in spite of being much younger chronologically.
- Extranormal Institute: Artemis and Demeter manage the Nymph, Nereid and Sylvan Conservation and Protection Committee to help feral nymphs adapt to the modern world.
- Film Noir: Existential angst. Check. Cynical outlook. Check. Moral ambiguity. Check...
- Foreign Cuss Word: Generally untranslated. And in Ancient Greek.
- Love God: Eros (Cupid to the Romans) is the Greek god of romantic love. Although here he's far from the winged, mischievous cherub seen on Valentine's Day cards.
- Halloween Episode: Ashley and her friends spend much of the book wondering what they should (or can) dress up as for Halloween.
- Hardboiled Detective: Phil tries to present himself as one, with varying degrees of success.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Holly
- Maiden Aunt: Athena spins, knits, weaves tapestries of her cats and insists everyone call her "Aunt Minnie." Then again, being the virginal goddess of spincraft means she's probably the Ur-Example.
- Meaningful Name:
- Phil Bowman translates to "Love Archer". Athena, known to the Romans as Minerva, goes by "Aunt Minnie." The nymphs Ashley, Lauryn and Holly are named after the types of trees they emerged from.
- Phil's client is surnamed Guildenstern, which he lampshades as a character from Hamlet.
- Oh My Gods!: Especially by the nymphs.
- Perception Filter: People only see Phil as what they believe or expect him to look like. Also subverted in that it attracts attention from police and security officers by making him seem more suspicious.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Phil says he prefers shooting people with a low-powered .22 to the back of the head, which would typically result in these.
- Reference Overdosed: Most of Ashley's understanding of the "real" world comes from the pop culture and fandoms she's familiar with (particularly from the mid-to-late 2000s). Phil, unsurprisingly, tends to relate to things in terms of Film Noir from the 1940s and '50s. Needless to say, they don't communicate well with each other.
- Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Phil chalks up his failed childhood relationship with Persephone to romantic idealism and adolescent insanity. He's also become so jaded he wonders if "true love" is just an emotional delusion.
- Smarter Than You Look: Phil downplays Ashley into the role of his Dumb Blonde secretary, but she's apparently rather tech-savvy and even writes programs for the office computer.
- The Nondescript: Phil only describes himself as vaguely ethnic-looking, average height with dark hair and dark eyes, and that on a good day he can still pass for thirty.
- Who Shot JFK?: Figures heavily into the story. Phil also says he has ten bucks with a bookie in case it was Elvis and twenty on suicide.
- Wild Adult: Ash and her friends are tree nymphs being rehabilitated by an Olympian work/study program.
- Younger Than They Look: Although tree nymphs become nascent in adult form, the girls in the program are quite young in human years. Ash is at least five, and Holly is going on seven.