Spectre of War

Kin S. Law. City Owl, $15.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-944728-53-3
Law (Future That Never Was) continues his steampunk saga with a middling episode that spans the Atlantic. Taking center stage in this volume is Insp. Vanessa Hargreaves, chosen by Queen Victoria III to lead Metropolitan Division Six of Scotland Yard, which was formed to counter steamcraft crime. The inspector is called upon to investigate a train robbery in which one entire car was demolished by automatons. Vanessa learns that the queen means to use a diseased corpse that was on the train as a biological weapon against the Ottomans. When the box containing the corpse comes into her possession, she decides she must get it out of the country and chooses to follow a clue about the robbery that points to America. As befits steampunk, Law fills the pages with exciting gear action and fashion that’s heavy on corsets and bustles, the latter amplifying Law’s discomfiting tendency to focus on women’s bodices, bosoms, and backsides. His prose includes some brilliant descriptions (including the opening sentence, “A black murder rose from the wound of a cliff”) but also some turns of phrase that are just baffling. Interludes break up the action, but they and a drug subplot contribute little to the story as a whole. This is acceptable steampunk with some flaws. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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