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“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

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Magic Breaks
Ilona Andrews
The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel
Helene Wecker
Dead Man's Rain (Markhat, #2) - Frank Tuttle I try to be fair in my reviews and give some time to reflection before I write up my thoughts. It's only the exceptions at either end of the spectrum that get written immediately after reading. Tuttle's story/novellas/books were the exception to my reviewing exceptions. I found the first, a short story, as a Kindle deal and followed with the next five within the week. They were really, really good--solid satisfying reads. But I distrusted my judgement: there's so few reviews for these books with so few specifics. Was I transferring feels from something else? Were these books an echo of another read? Perhaps. But I'm re-reading, and remain convinced that Tuttle is a talented writer with solid storytelling skills. He takes a fantasy world, couples it with the plot and characters of an insouciant hardboiled mystery and arrives at a very satisfying interpretation of detective fantasy.Tuttle is able to blend a semi-standard fantasy setting with deliberate world-building without relying on cumbersome info-dumps. For readers that prefer every detail spelled out this could be frustrating, but for those that enjoy putting the puzzle together, it's very satisfying, and encourages a feeling of discovery. For instance, in this story the 'half-dead' are mentioned as part of the reason for city curfew. It's a throwaway bit that adds world-building and leaves the reader intrigued, but isn't really explained because it isn't pertinent to the story. (Fortunately, the half-dead will be explained in the next story when they are relevant to the story being told). I do have the impression feeling that the world is well constructed, and the details develop through each story organically without being distracting. Markhat (no last name--or is it first?) is a former soldier that takes various odd jobs to survive. He lives on the seedy side of town next to Mama Hog, a fortune-teller with a knack for involving herself in his business. Markhat's got a chip on his shoulder a mile wide and has little respect for authority or money, but sometimes he'll do the job even if he doesn't like you much. Mama Hog sends an affluent widow woman Markhat's way when she looks for help dealing with her dead husband:"'Sixty-five crown,' she said, her voice glacial, to match her eyes. 'Seventy, if you vow to hold your tongue.''I grinned. 'Sixty-five it is,' I said."One of the interesting things about the world is that despite being populated with fantastical people and creatures (witches, ogres, vampires), actual magic is uncommon--Markhat's quite skeptical that the widow is being haunted and suspects human nature is the culprit. Mama Hog tries to convince Markhat that revenants are real, and he needs to be on the lookout for them. "'You can't catch 'em coming out of the ground,' said Mama... 'they're like haunts, that way. Solid as rock one minute, thin as fog the next.''Sounds handy,' I said. 'Do their underbritches get all misty and ethreal too, or is that one of the things man was not meant to know?'"The city seems familiar, pre-industrialization, a wide brown river separating the wealthy from the poor. Markart heads across the river to the wealthy estates to take on the widow's job. "No potholes in the cobblestone streets, no filth coking the gutters, no bodies, sleeping or otherwise, sprawled on the sidewalks--my, what a gulf the Brown River spans." Class consciousness is a common theme in detective noir, and including it in the fantasy setting helps it feel a little more real, a little less utopian where elves and unicorns frolic under rainbows.The story progresses quickly, and the ominous atmosphere of a nearly-empty manor is used well. Supernatural and corporeal elements come together and make for an unusual ending. It ends up being a satisfying mystery-thriller with a little bit of a shiver at the finale, much like ghost stories told around the campfire.