Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Johannes Cabal The Detective by Jonathan L Howard

Johannes Cabal The Detective
Jonathan L Howard

For necromancer Johannes Cabal, dealing with devils, demons and raising the dead is pretty much par for the course. But when his attempt to steal a rare book turns sour, he is faced by a far more terrifying entity – politics.
While awaiting execution for his crime, Cabal is forced to resurrect an inconveniently deceased emperor. Seizing his chance, the cunning Cabal engineers his escape, fleeing the country on a state-of-the-art flying ship.
But the ship has more than a few unpleasant surprises, including an unwelcome face from the past and the small matter of some mysterious murders. Cabal may work with corpses but he has absolutely no intention of becoming one. Drawn into a deadly conspiracy, is he shuffling dangerously close to the end of his mortal coil?
Johannes Cabal is back – a little older, a little wiser, but just as sharply funny, cuttingly sarcastic, and unexpectedly violent as ever.



Rosy's scrawlings on Johannes Cabal The Detective
I previously recommended the first book in the Johannes Cabal series. If you read the first book the experience should be more than enough to get you reading the second. If, however, you didn't read the first because of the satanic elements and have a general dislike for the paranormal in fantasy then you might just want to skip it and read the second. I found that this was possible as there's only one repeat character aside from Johannes (obviously) and all you really need to know is that her soul and her father's were in jeopardy thanks to Johannes, for the most part. That makes for a little tension and discord and there's where the character relations start. One tiny detail that might help is that Johannes brother had been a vampire after his death. There's a couple of vampire references and that's why Johannes' not all that pleased to hear them. Otherwise, this story is as good as the first for introducing Johannes and creating a world that appears only in this book (I say this not having read the 3rd book yet).
While the previous book delved deeply into necromancy, Hell and a bet with Satan this book concerns itself mostly with politics, impending war, a locked room murder and much more (which to mention will begin to give away the goodies). Necromancy does take place but mostly as the cause of and solution to (in part) Johannes' problems. So, for a book that's part of a dark comedy fantasy series the story is rather more detective in genre than expected. This doesn't translate as a break from the strange world of Johannes Cabal in the first book as the states entangled in high-tension politics are fictional as is the murder setting, which is a passenger aeroship, a construction somewhat similar to an Avengers hovercraft that's flying over mountains rather than the sea (Of interest, the boarding crafts fly like insects.).
The writing of Johannes Cabal The Detective isn't as easy to read as that of the first book, Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, largely because of the number of unfamiliar names: of states, weapons, aeroship structures etc. I mention this only as I noticed the unfamiliar words made it harder to read aloud to my bub (we sit on the front porch, watch the road and trees and I read aloud). If you're reading silently though, you should have no problem at all. The language is bubbling with words you'll rarely run across, which winds into the dark and dry wit used to emphasise Johannes' cynical take on the world.

I'd recommend this book to: those interested in murder mystery and political fantasy stories, black comedies and steampunk. Also, anyone who read the first book should greatly enjoy the second.

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