Reviewed by May
From the author’s website:
Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work all hours in the Criminal Investigation Division, keeping citizens safe. He’s a charming rogue with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s all logic—and the first female inspector. Between his instincts and her brains, they collar more criminals than any other partnership in the CID.
Then they’re assigned a potentially volatile case where one misstep could end their careers. At first, the search for a missing heiress seems straightforward, but when the girl is found murdered—her body charred to cinders—Mikani and Ritsuko’s modus operandi will be challenged as never before. Before long, it’s clear the bogeyman has stepped out of nightmares to stalk gaslit streets, and it’s up to them to hunt him down. There’s a madman on the loose, weaving blood and magic in an intricate, lethal ritual that could mean the end of everything…
I would describe this book as a police procedural set in a fantasy/alternate world, one that is heavy in detailed description of these characters as they solve this unique and gruesome crime. It would take entirely too much space for me to even attempt a true explanation of their world, quite honestly I still don’t quite understand. Basically there used to be no humans but then somehow “bearded ones” (humans?) got in, then there were wars, a truce, and the bloodlines mixed. There is a lot going on with houses and social levels and magic and no magic and so on. I wish the prologue had been longer but then I got to wondering if the mysteries of this world were going to be part of the overall plot. That would explain a lot!
This story was so dense, each page so full of description and detail, that I was very frequently confused or flipping back to try and recall who was being discussed and what various people meant to the investigators and so on. When the bad guy is revealed at the end, I had to refer to my notes to figure out who he even was. So there was no “aha!” satisfaction, just a mild headache.
Despite my personal failure as a reader to keep up with some of the intense information and dry procedural scenes this book offered, I really liked the idea here. I was expecting steampunk and I did not find that. This was much more police in an alternate universe type book, more magic than gadgets. What I really liked in this story were the characters, as well as the unique world and I would definitely try again when book two is released.
Mikani is the ‘bad cop’ partner who bends the rules, but he is surprisingly gentle and sensitive too. He has a rare and terrible gift, he’s able to read the people and even scenes to help them solve crimes. I loved that he is the more domestic of the two, that his personality is a constantly shifting mash up of domestic and wild, focused and rambling.
Ritsuko is the ‘good cop’ and she excels at following leads, doing paperwork, researching, and keeping things in order so when Mikani has to use his gift she can help him. She doesn’t cook, apologize for her intelligence, or take crap. She defied her family, and has overcome every obstacle in her way of becoming an inspector and has earned her every accolade and every ounce of success.
“Sometimes I think you just keep me around for my larcenous skills.”
Ritsuko whispered, “That, and your manly thews. But how did you know?”
“Caught you looking at my picks more than once.”
There is clearly tension and possibility between these two, but don’t come into this book expecting romance. I hope that in future books there will be more of the banter between Ritsuko and Mikani, more adventure, some romance, and a less heavy hand on the procedural side of things. Overall a really interesting story and read I’d recommend if you like alternate universe mixed with your police-like mystery. I’ve never read a story quite like this one, and I’m eager to see what happens next.