The Clockwork Wolf

Lynn Viehl. Pocket, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-4767-2237-5

In the second steampunk adventure featuring Charmian “Kit” Kittredge (after Disenchanted & Co.), the fierce crimesolver is tasked with protecting the reputation of wealthy Lady Eugenia Bestly. Lady Bestly’s recently deceased husband was one of the shape-shifting, part-clockwork Wolfmen who have been terrorizing Toriana (this timeline’s version of America). Lady Bestly believes that he was bespelled into his violent behavior. As Kit attempts to uncover the wolves’ origins, she is assisted by a colorful cast, including her best friend, Carina Eagle, the proprietor of a brothel; her ghost grandfather, Harry; her childhood friend, Chief Insp. Tommy Doyle; and the magnetic deathmage Lucien Dredmore. Viehl is at her best when exploring the Kit-Tommy-Lucien love triangle, but this otherwise zippy page-turner drowns in an abundance of characters, and Kit lacks depth and realistic flaws. (Mar.)