Dramatis Personae

Dog and Spider Private Investigations

Jessica Dombrowski-Sakamoto

Jessica Dombrowski once had a bright future. The privileged daughter of an adopted Mexican who became a feared crime boss, she chose instead the path of righteousness. In the Chicago PD, she quickly proved herself an effective and even-tempered officer. She was recognized as one of those rarest, a blue knight that stood selflessly between the darkness of the world and those helpless to fight against it.

This all came crashing down when Merrick entered her life. She was held a slave by him for two years as a doppelganger took over her life, advancing the spirit’s agenda of vengeance against the city. Though finally freed of him the damage was done. Her reputation was ruined, her self-respect shattered. Every day there was only her work, and she was damn good at it. Her pride leeched away when her shifts were over, and the nights were spent in the arms of whoever else washed up out of the darkness for a little bit of fun.

Even the longest of nights have their dawn, and hers came that fateful night she decided to go home with the pretty man that had been throwing shy glances at her for the last few weeks. They were sleazy people, desperate and damaged. Their beginning was the opposite of a storybook romance, yet it elevated both of them from the depravity into which they had sunk. The days once again held hope.

Nikolaos Sakamoto

The first thing one would notice about Nikolaos Sakamoto is a strikingly pretty man, with white wolf ears atop his head in addition to his human ears, and a bushy tail behind to match the ears. Despite cutting quite an imposing figure for a Japanese man at 6 foot 2 and wearing the scars of a missing eye, his skin is otherwise flawless like that of a doll. His one visible grey-violet eye evoked a look of gentleness, his lopsided grin was often compared to that of a geisha’s reserved humor at a formal event… and let’s be honest he wasn’t doing himself any favors with that long hair. It was the type seemingly innocent to the concept of tangles or frays like some of the most envied southeast Asians.

A man who has never had a particular home for long, though the Kabuki-cho district of Shinjuku is the place he came from and keeps wandering back to. Getting a start with a father he now refuses to talk about, Nikolaos was put to the sort of work no young boy should be. At the tender age of 12 his father propositioned the wrong man and the boy was taken in by the kyodai of a minor family in the Sumioshi Union. There he learned fluent English as he took very well to the skills any young man of the syndicate would, and even ended up married to Mr. Saotome’s daughter. Nikolaos was encouraged by the family to join the JMSDF and gain some skills to broaden his chances for promotion. Realizing he preferred the honest life, Nikolaos seized the opportunity to emigrate to the United States with his now-pregnant wife. The Saotome did not take very kindly to this betrayal.

Nikolaos does not speak much of the intervening years and his lost family, but the Saotome leave him alone now due to those bloody events. Drifting from place to place, Nick opened up a detective agency and set down roots. After some halfhearted attempts at love (and one ill-advised yet passionate relationship) Nick simply gave up all hope of a future and began to drift through his days in a drunken haze, grey despair held at bay by occasional bouts of heroics his job afforded him. When Nick finally decided to approach Jessica, he could not have even dreamt that this woman would web over all the holes in his heart and bring color to his world again.

And help him kick the fuck out of their enemies.


Merrick is bison. Bison has always been on this land, and has never been very fond of what the white men have done to it. Rather than allowing the ills of plastic and pollution to lay him low, Merrick chose to embrace that corruption and bring it under his own will. From this embrace came the Skinstealers, a shape-shifting race of insectoid creatures that Merrick damn near took Chicago’s entire government over with. That was in the past, and though he failed this task he sees it as no true setback: who wants to go through the trouble of politics on that level? There are other, less grandiose, ways to stake his claim in this world.

Cynthia Shepard

Nick’s land lady, closest friend, and primary rival of Jessica early on. Wrench wench AND mad scientist plus she likes hockey. She’s one of the boys except where it really counts, and takes pleasure in that she is the epitome of the tomboy type.

Marion Dombrowski

Jessica’s mom, born and raised in Israel who got married to a Chicago mobster after World War 2. She’s almost a century old. She’s so old she remembers when the word “Palestinian” was a slur arabs used to refer to Jews. When her husband died, she chose to take his position as her own, and she was not shy about eliminating contenders. The Dombrowski family found their influence and wealth has increased by a significant margin under Marion’s leadership.

Dahlia Sakamoto

Sometimes when a Mommy and Daddy really love one another they’re blessed with a child.


Ugh What a super-bitch. Nick comes with his own villain as well, see? More details when Book 6 is complete!

Raoul Delacroix

Raoul is another asset to the Chicago PD. This Parsi Daemon as fabulous as he looks, and knows how to handle himself in a fight… though he does try to opt out of danger if possible. Generally he keeps his wings a small size at work, because Raoul finds they make a wonderful fashion accessory. When he walks out the door he changes them to big boy mode? Oh how he wants to be free, and what’s more free than being able to soar above the city he loves so?

Stephen Lomax

Lomax is an orc who means you no specific harm. This is not to say he won’t piss you off or is incapable OF harming you, he just doesn’t think it’s nice to do so. He’s an oaf, and often quite insensitive, yet his sometimes jaw-dropping stupidity obfuscates his affable nature. He’s a great man to have your back, but if you’re opposing him? He tends to accept surrender readily enough. Lomax doesn’t like it when people make him hurt them.

Jerry Valentine

Jerry was married to jessica’s doppelganger and even had a child with her. Jerry sees himself as a man who is very unlucky in love and, while this may not be entirely untrue, most of it is his own doing. Jerry likes to chase the high of new love, and while he claims to want to settle down, it was only the fake Jessica who had been able to tie him down for long. Despite Jerry’s romantic fidelity being less than stellar his loyalty to the daughter of that ill-fated union is absolute. Jerry often says without irony that Sarah Valentine is both the best thing that has ever happened to him and raising her is the best thing he has ever done.

He’s also fantastic in bed.

Novels by Barbara Ziblis

Sinking Beneath the Waves