When We Were Executioners

J.M. McDermott. Night Shade (www.nightshadebooks.com), $14.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-59780-338-0
The second Dogsland novel picks up where Never Knew Another left off, with a wolfskin-wearing priest and priestess of Erin reconstructing the last days of Jona, Lord Joni, a half-demon corporal of the King’s Men, from residual dreams that imbue his found skull. Hoping to track down and terminate two similarly demon-tainted Dogslanders of Jona’s acquaintance—Rachel Nolander, his lover, and Salvatore Fidelio, his detested enemy—the priestly pair follow Jona’s memories through adventures that include his clashes with drug smugglers and his assassination of suitors to the daughter of a powerful lord, whereby Jona hopes to manipulate the succession. McDermott make Jona a compelling antihero, by turns ruthless and compassionate. The author’s real achievement, though, is his vivid evocation of Dogsland, a quasi-medieval realm whose squalor, depravity, and brutality give credible context for the best and worst behaviors, as well as the novel’s subtly fantastic goings-on. Agent: Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
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