American Craftsmen

Tom Doyle. Tor, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3751-1

Doyle’s uneven debut raises the reader’s hopes and then crushes them. American army captain Dale Morton is cursed by a Middle Eastern mage while on a special mission. The last member of one of American’s Craft families—magic practitioners who have allied themselves in service to the American government in exchange for protection and secrecy—Morton knows he was set up, and he must investigate and thwart a conspiracy that threatens the long-standing covenant. Amid a flutter of tense action sequences and interesting worldbuilding, Morton develops an unconvincing relationship with the tragically under-characterized Scherezade Rezvani; her whole function is to be a plot device and shout obscenities at ghosts. The two of them could found a new magical line, if only they manage to survive their assault on the clichéd, cardboard villains, including an anorexic woman who conquers through sexual submission. The ideas and prose are interesting enough to suggest that Doyle’s next offering might be worth reading. [em]Agent: Robert Thixton, Pinder Lane Productions. (May) [/em]