In Review: Bronze Gods
Published by Ace Books, May 2013. Paperback at $7.99, 322 pages.
The cover: Designed by Judith Lagerman, with the illustration by Cliff Nielson, we get a nice shot of our two leads, dressed very dapper, he with a cane and she with an odd looking gun. The lights in the background and the gears overlaying the image make this seem like a Steampunk novel. This cover caught my eye and was the first step in my considering its purchase. Overall grade: A
The premise: From the back cover: “Danger stalks the streets of steam and shadows. Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work all hours in the Criminal Investigation Division, keeping citizens safe. He’s a charming rogue with an uncanny sixth sense; she’s all logic–and the division’s first female inspector. Between his instincts and her brains, they collar more criminals than any other partnership in the CID. Then they’re assigned a potentially volatile case in the which one misstep could end their careers. At first, the search for a missing heiress seems straightforward, but when the girl is found murdered–her body charred to cinders–Mikani and Ritsuko’s modus operandi is challenged as never before. It soon becomes clear the bogeyman has stepped out of nightmares to stalk gaslit streets, and it’s up to them to hunt him down. There’s a madman on the loose, weaving blood and magic in an intricate, lethal ritual that could mean the end of everything…” I was looking for a Steampunk novel to read and after reading this and looking at the cover, it seemed to fit the bill. Overall grade: A
The characters: Janus Mikani is a svelte, strong man who has the ability to sense the truth of an individual’s statements just by being in proximity. He is also able to learn what has happened in a room by feeling it a la a sixth sense. Using either of these abilities wears him down immensely. Pushing the buttons of others is second nature to him, though he has a soft spot for his partner, Celeste Ritsuko. She is the first, and only, female detective of the CID and she’s constantly doing all that she can show she has earned it. She is a methodical maven, taking down facts and possible clues at a crime scene, thinking always of the case. Doing so has hurt her personal life, though she would protect her partner at any cost. I was pleased that neither character made an overtly romantic move on the other. I expected there to be romance between this single female-male teaming, but wisely Aguirre hints at the possibilities. My only hope is that furthering of their relationship is saved for a final novel, seeing as how this book is labeled “First in a new series”, that won’t come out for several years. The dialogue between the pair reminded me very much of John Steed and Emma Peel exchanging witticisms and deep fondness for one another. They are a fantastic duo. The only other character I’ll go into is Aurelia Wright, who has turned down the life of living under her father in his powerful house to live the life of a choreographer in the theater. She is intelligent and elegant, but lacking a partner. Her world is turned upside down when someone in her company is murdered and a strangely intriguing man comes into her life. I didn’t care much for Aurelia in the beginning, but, as the chapters focused on her point of view, I began to find her very enjoyable and I thrilled to expedition into the semier sections of the city. There are several other major characters in the book, but I’ve avoided naming or discussing them for fear of tipping any of the writer’s hand to possible murder suspects. Suffice to say, I enjoyed them all. Overall grade: A+
The settings: Wow! There is a terrific backstory to this world, how magic existed until the coming of man, and alliances were made to coexist with them. Magic is present in this world, but in very subtle ways. The Houses are barely touched upon in this book and cause trepidation at their mention of involvement. There is a promise of great supernatural strength from them–I cannot wait to see one unleashed in a future book. This is the world of Steampunk. The world seems stuck many ways in a Victorian England setting, but the technology is advanced in many other ways. I am surprised this has not been picked up and made into a role playing game. As a reader, I could have the writer wander about a building or street for several pages and be perfectly happy at what I’m shown. Overall grade: A+
The action: This is a detective novel with two inspectors under the gun to solve a series of murders before the city riots and the villain achieves his/her goal. Every crime scenes brings tension with conflicting witnesses or deadly devices whose purpose is a confounding puzzle. Every chapter holds a clue to the killer and their motivation. Fans of the detective story will be happy, as will those fond of magic or Steampunk. Overall grade: A+
The resolution: Outstanding! There is a wrap up with a slight hint of things to come, both criminally and personally for our heroes. You could stop with this novel and feel complete in it’s tale, but why wouldn’t you want more? Overall grade: A+
The final line: A crime novel featuring the greatest new pair of detectives with just a hint of magic. A.A. Aguirre has crafted a dynamic team in a fantastic world that I cannot wait to visit again. Highest possible recommendation! Overall grade: A+
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyers Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.