I didn’t realise this was a novella when I first picked it up, but it works incredibly well in this format. Much like Seanan McGuire’s ‘Every Heart a Doorway’, this in the shorter format leaves you wanting more whilst feeling utterly satisfied with the characters and plot.
In a Victorian England-esque city, we have Drake, a private investigator for hire who frequents the worst part of town, and doesn’t make much to show for it. When he gets an offer that’ll earn him more than he sometimes makes in a year, even if it does involve nobility (who he usually tries to avoid), he takes on the job for the gold alone and heads on to the fancy estate to start investigating.
He doesn’t solve the mystery without difficulty – from a hurried chase and many battles that almost take his life, Drake finds himself at times within a grave or trading words with the head of the crime syndicate. If you’re looking for a quick and exciting read, this certainly is a high contender.
What expands this novel well even though it’s short, are the brief mentions of who’s currently in power and the history of conflict between rulers, and noting who has loyalty to which side – this instantly gives depth and makes the world building spring to life, and it’s very well handled indeed.
The characters are quite excellent, Drake especially, though having two family characters with such similar names (Colin and Corth) can be slightly confusing.
Overall, this is a very fun book, and one I recommend for a lazy afternoon where you want some excitement, or snarky and snazzy writing.