Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this book for full price.

Once again, DeCandido has blown me away with his knowledge of genre tropes and how to bend them to his will to create a fantastic story. This time, he combines the magic of police procedurals with high fantasy (via table-top role-playing game conventions) to craft a unique and satisfying mystery.

Readers who have played table-top RPGs will probably appreciate the world-building of this book the most, but any fantasy or mystery readers will find something to enjoy. Personally, as a reader who has always loved “lower decks” tales, this visit to the realm of town guards, who are generally just bit players or unnamed obstacles in a played RPG, was a huge treat for me.

Every character in this book plays on familiar stereotypes from multiple genres; because of this, every character in this book is unique and contains hidden depths. The plot/mystery/storyline itself also employs this “best of both worlds” method of writing with the bonus of a completely unexpected twist.

I could have done with a bit less of the literal depiction of dialect in the book’s dialogue, but that’s also a fantasy trope that just happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Certainly not enough to stop me from looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

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