The Tainted Cup

Del Rey: Ballantine. Feb. 2024. 432p. ISBN 9781984820709. $28.99. FANTASY
It’s Dinios Kol’s first murder case as the junior assistant to the brilliant, irascible, and much senior investigator Ana Dolabra. Din has been magically engineered to retain every single detail of everything he sees and hears, which should be a boon in his work. But not when the victim is dead as the result of a tree growing out of his lungs. Ana uses Din’s observations to determine not just whodunnit but how this uniquely gruesome murder was accomplished. Her investigation, however, discomfits the rich and powerful even as the monstrous climate impedes the search and destroys the evidence. Bennett’s (Locklands) series opener introduces readers to a conspiracy of murder and skullduggery as seen through the eyes of a naive junior investigator who is forced to grow up fast and hard as his boss and mentor, the rather Sherlockian Ana, threads her way through a complex conspiracy of murders.
VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and steampunk mystery and readers searching for magically engineered combinations of alchemy and corruption in the same vein as Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham and In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan.
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