Book Review: “The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

I liked this book. It’s not heavy or deep, but it is well written.

The basic plot isn’t terribly new (amateur sleuth solves mystery, discovers meaning in her life), but it is done well.

This is also one of a growing, but still small, body of good fiction about online games and gamers. As I have remarked before, video gaming is certainly influencing popular fiction, but a lot of the influence is bad.

This book captures the spirit and culture of gamers pretty well, but does not emulate the horrific storytelling patterns of video games. Cosplay, si; gruesome beheadings, no!

The online game actually adds a fun twist to the usual mystery: Dahlia is hired to solve a crime that occurred in the online fantasy game Kingdoms of Zoth. When the client is murdered IRL, Dahlia has to sift through the roster of suspects in both digital and physical worlds. Everyone has both digital and physical identities and motives, which makes things harder to figure out.

I enjoyed the dual funerals, physical and digital, as well as the crazy convention action.

Most important, Wirestone writes well, and clearly knows the life of gamers very well. I’m sure he has done a lot of careful “research” in online worlds. 🙂

Dahlia’s monlogues and the dialog was readable and fun, and even literate in places, and, of course, we like and care about Dahlia and her (rather goofy) friends.

Well done.


  1. Max Wirestone, The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, New Yoirk, Hatchette, 2015.


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