Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara


By Dave Ebersole, Delia Gable, Vinnie Rico, Sean Von Gorman, Tana Ford, Josh Lester & various (Northwest Press)
ISBN: 978-1-94-389055-2 (TPB) eISBN 978-1-94-389056-9

The 1930s were a golden age of fantasy fiction, particularly in the genres of pulp adventure, crime stories and supernatural horror. As such it’s a time period accessible to some degree by most modern consumers of escapist entertainment. It was also a time of great hypocrisy, social conservatism – except in the arts and politics – and enforced conformity.

All that gets a great big “So What?” in this deliriously rambunctious melange of mixed media forms wherein writer Dave Ebersole and illustrator Delia Gable finally complete their long-delayed epic tale of boozy, proudly unrepentant queer private eye Dashell Malone, who cautiously negotiates the hostile environment of pre-WWII Los Angeles and outraged former colleagues from the LAPD in search of the mystic horror that destroyed the man he loved…

It all begins in 1940 when exotic and sultry Zita Makara hires him to act as go-between in a shady deal. She is exceptionally unforthcoming with useful details and not a little annoyed at his easy resistance to her charms and attentions… much to the amusement of Dash’s sassy but efficient secretary Cindy Crenshaw

The PI’s attention is further derailed by the return of his lover, shady ne’er-do-well Johnny Plinketts, so when his diligent investigations of Zita take him to a travelling Egyptian antiquities exhibition, Dash is totally unprepared for the appalling consequences. Dash still has friends on the force – such as patrolman Sal McGillicutty – who is there to break the shocking news that “Plink” has been found dead in incredible circumstances. Moreover, he’s not the first. LA has become the hunting grounds for a ghastly beast…

A convenient suspect for bigoted detective Bruno Perez, Dash is eventually released and falls into a depression until Cindy and Sal get him moving on finding the real killer, but before long the trail leads to an ancient Egyptian heretic cursed by the gods and an undying predator active for ages. This terror has been methodically preparing to turn back time and remake the world and Plink was not only his latest meal but also deeply involved in the plot from the start…

As events spiral and supernatural Hell inescapably comes to Earth, Dash is thrust into the role of mystic avenger and saviour of humanity, but it’s a job the grieving shamus neither wants nor feels qualified to handle…

Augmented by an effusive Introduction and appreciation from Steve Orlando, the book also includes a background-packed ‘Interlude’ from Ebersole and artist Vinnie Rico, as well as a trio of brief ‘Further Cases’.

‘The Case of the Man in the Mask’ (art by Sean Von Gorman) sees Dash dismantle a devious blackmail scheme, whilst Rico’s ‘The Case of the Best Friend on the Police Force’ traces the story of LAPD officers Malone and McGillicutty before Cindy’s origins are explored in ‘The Case of the Wisecracking Secretary’ (Rico again). Rounding up the fun is early promotional art, Afterwords and thank-yous, plus a recipe section inviting you to “make the cocktails you just read about” in ‘You Don’t Have to Drink, But If You Do… Drink Well!’

A superbly engaging romp in the manner of The (1999) Mummy whilst tipping its battered, dusty fedora to classics of film noir and latter-day pulp homages like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Hooten and the Lady, this is a splendid excursion categorically proving that not all rugged he-men get the girl in the end…
© 2020 Dave Ebersole. Dash co-created by Dave Ebersole and Delia Gable. All rights reserved.