For a light-hearted comedy romp, this book sure is dark as fuck. Tales of the City is a series about the adventures and misadventures of bunch of San Franciscans so when I tell you that this book is about the psychotic mass-murdering leader of Jonestown, raping a woman weakened by illness in front of her children in order to establish himself as “father” of their family, then after his supposed death and her escape, stalking her, kidnapping her children and wrapping them in the skins of mutilated pet rabbits, you might understand where I’m coming from. This is more James Patterson than Sookie Stackhouse. This is in fact fucking brutal, and way, way too dark to be pulled off with the light-hearted comedic mystery tone of the book.

This is a decidedly weird book. Would you intercut a will-they-won’t-they romantic subplot with a psychopath singing the same lullaby to kidnapped children that he sang to soothe them after he raped their mother? Eh, no, I didn’t think so. It’s so wildly jarring. I definitely read this and think, Maupin write yourself a horror/thriller because you’re clearly desperate to and then come back to Tales. Yeesh.