Friday, August 30, 2013

The Shadow Of The Soul - Sarah Pinborough


The Shadow Of The Soul
The Forgotten Gods: Book Two
Sarah Pinborough
Ace

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
 

Obligatory “Book Two” Note:  It’s book two.  So, clearly, there are going to be spoilers here.  And, honestly, I’m not sure that you’d fully appreciate this one if you haven’t read the first book, A MATTER OF BLOOD, first.  So, go read the first book now.  This review will still be here when you’re done.

This novel picks up six months after the events of A MATTER OF BLOOD.  In that time, there’s been a lot of fallout for Detective Inspector Cassius Jones.  Exposing the corruption of so many police officers and their superiors has left Cass dealing with lawyers, distrustful colleagues, and the fact that he’s stuck on crap details most of the time.  Being sent to the scene of a suicide looks like just more grunt work.  The college student managed to thrust her arms through the television screen.  According to her boyfriend, she’d been muttering the same phrase over and over: Chaos in the darkness.

It seems open-and-shut until Cass talks to Asst. M.E. Eagleton, who tells him about several other suicides who left the same message.  No one knows what it means.  Cass agrees that the cases are linked somehow, but the dead students have nothing else in common.  Cass is also involved in the search for his missing nephew, sure that the mysterious and otherworldly Mr. Bright is involved in it.  His suspicions are confirmed when a lawyer delivers a sealed envelope, entrusted to him by Cass’ late brother.  Inside is one sentence: “THEY took Luke.” 

In a parallel storyline, Abigail Porter’s life is devoted to protecting the Prime Minister.  In fact, her life has narrowed down, emptied out, in recent years until her job is almost the only thing in it.  A series of explosions on a Saturday afternoon tear away the veneer of safety felt by London’s residents.  Afterwards, Abigail spots a strange figure in the shadows, watching her.  That same figure is captured by CCTV all over London, just before the bombings.  And he shows up again during a memorial for the dead.  Abigail, the only one to see him, chases him into an Underground station.  He says he knows she’s emptying, whispers a word, then jumps in front of a train.  Abigail’s world is changed just as surely as Cass’ world has been, but in a much different way.

This is the second installment of this series, set in near-future London, with the world on the brink of economic collapse.  The Bank owns just about everything.  Behind the Bank is a group called the Network.  Cass came into contact with them while investigating The Man Of The Flies, and knows there’s something ‘other’ about them.  Mr. Bright has clearly been involved in Cass’ life since before he was born.  He’s lost the rest of his family and many friends to the machinations of the Network, but still doesn’t quite understand what or who they are.  He almost doesn’t want to know; he fights against the knowledge, even as he searches for his dead brother’s missing son.  Somehow, that missing child seems to be the key to everything.
 
If you’ve read the first book (and I’d recommend it) you already know that Mr. Bright and his cohorts are something other.  This book gives a broadening view the Network, some of its inner workings, and how it controls life on a global scale.  The story drops hints about who they are and what their motivations might be, but leaves a lot of information in the dark.  The narration moves back and forth between Cass, Abigail, and Mr. Bright.  The author has created a world that looks familiar, yet is somehow alien.  The story is fascinating and compelling, and makes me hope the third installment is not far distant.  Cass is a flawed hero, as all the best heroes are, and I’ll eagerly follow him to the end of this.
 
Rating: 8 ½
August 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25848-4

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