The White City

Elizabeth Bear, Author
Elizabeth Bear, Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $25 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59606-323-5
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Hugo-winner Bear (The Sea Thy Mistress) begins her new short novel with a deceptive catalogue of steampunk clichés—alternate history, a plucky heroine, and the obligatory zeppelins—before veering in a radically different direction with a double-threaded detective story plot. Two murders in Moscow, one in 1897 and the other in 1903, are linked to a single woman. But this is no mere costumed crime story: the czarist police employ forensic sorcerers, and vampires and their elegant "courts" of human hangers-on are accepted members of society. The pace is brisk, the characters are well realized, and the resultant delvings into darkness are certain to keep genre readers entertained to the end. The sole cause for disappointment is that things wrap up too quickly and easily, with limited exposure to the strange minds of Bear's decidedly posthuman vampires. (Jan.)
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