Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1)

The Last Smile in Sunder City is the first book in a new series by Luke Arnold. Released 25th Feb 2020 by Orbit Books, it's 368 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

This is a gritty fantasy noir PI tale in a debut series by a debut author and I can't recall the last time I was this impressed by a new series. Within a few pages I was well and truly intrigued and within a few chapters it had secured a place in my 'auto-buy' TBR pile. In my mind, it goes to roughly the same subcategory as Glen Cook, Ben Aaronovitch (but much grittier, less humorous, and more Chandler-esque than either), John D. MacDonald (with the same melancholy tarnished knight feel), and an authentic George Sims vibe (whom I heartily recommend and for anyone unfamiliar with this great unsung British noir writer go find his work).  The book is not derivative, however, and the author has a clear and unique voice of his own.

The plotting does drag in a few places, and as a first book in the series, the author spends a fair bit of page content on laying down the admittedly intriguing backstory and world structure. The characterization is spot on and for whatever reason, the author has a commanding feel for dialogue (possibly because of his acting skills?). It might be partially right-book-at-the-right-time syndrome, but I really loved this book and recommend it highly to SF/F and urban noir fans.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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