(2008) Suzanne McLeod, Gollancz, £9.99, pbk, 363pp, ISBN 978-0-575-08428-5
Bit of a first, this one: I actually agreed with the extravagant praise on the cover by other reviewers, e.g. 'exceedingly well-written debut'. By the end of the first page I was grinning and had the lovely feeling that this could be a great book, and it was! In fact, I spent the whole evening/night reading the book in one sitting; it was literally too enjoyable to put down.
Sporting the subtitle (I suspect actually a series title) 'spellcrackers.com', it's written in the first person, set in a totally modern but parallel London in which there are vampires, witches and faery folk. I was immediately struck by the sense of a whole occult society and cultural background which the author has created in wonderful, totally plausible and fully-functioning detail. McLeod has then devised a really good, and valid in its own right, murder mystery to run in this setting. The main character is a very particular kind of sidhe fae (not actually human) whose antecedents are not immediately revealed. She has particular skills and abilities which are unique and, therefore, put her in demand when a murder occurs. She is not actually a private detective, but does rather get pushed into that role, juggling the different factions (vampires, witches, etc.) involved.
The complexity, depth and detail of all the various different types of 'people' (extremely loose term, that), each with their own society, is quite awesome (e.g. goblin hairstyles!), especially given that this is all just background, virtually incidental to the story. I found the book great fun, very witty and sassy (like the main character), fast-paced, with great dialogue, and with a large cast of well-written characters. It does become more serious in the last third, but that's in keeping with the story line. McLeod has created a brilliant world upon which any number of stories can be overlaid. I sincerely hope that she will write many more books in this setting. However, her writing abilities are such that I would happily read anything with her name on it!. This is the best new author/book I have read in years; long may she continue.
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