Monday, July 29, 2013
Paul Cornell, 2013 (2012 in UK)
New Release! I received an egalley of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.
Premise: Undercover cops Costain and Sefton, along with their Detective boss Quill, have been working this case for a long time. When the bust goes abruptly south, they, along with analyst Lisa Ross, delve deeper. But what they find turns reality on its head and they soon realize that this may involve going after a villain like no-one they’ve ever seen.
Paul Cornell is mostly known for writing comics and well-loved episodes of Doctor Who. Here he proved he’s definitely got solid urban fantasy chops as well.
I liked this book a lot, although it has a really slow burn. You meet the characters gradually, and it’s a solid police drama for at least the first five chapters or so before anything explicitly supernatural starts happening. Once it does, the pace picks up in a hurry.
I eventually liked all the characters, although it took me awhile to come around on one or two of them. Also the narrative sometimes jumps a little awkwardly between points of view. Each character’s story is nicely unique, they each have neuroses and issues and strengths.
The story is gripping, and (be warned) often grotesque. This tends toward where the edge of urban fantasy blurs into horror. I thought the mechanics that were revealed on the supernatural stuff were mostly pretty great, although a lot was left mysterious in a way that risks seeming not-thought-out.
This is definitely written with the potential to expand into a series, which means that the very end is a little.... it’s fine, but it feels as though it should end with “see you next week for the further adventures of...” which doesn't match the tone of the rest of the novel. I would far prefer if this book stood alone. You can safely skip the epilogue to avoid that, if you like.
(Interesting side note, according to the afterword, the genesis of this idea was for a long-ago tv pitch involving DW showrunner and writer Steven Moffat. I wonder what that would have been like?)
I’m torn on the rating here, because despite several flaws, I did enjoy the read, and I actually might be interested in more about these characters. Just go in expecting Stephen King rather than Charles DeLint. And if you’re American, expect to occasionally flip to the British glossary in the back.
4 Stars - A Very Good Book