Steven Brust, . . Tor, $24.95 (300pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0147-5
Despite witches, magical amulets and “elfs,” the appealing 11th novel in Brust’s bestselling Vlad Taltos series is a classic private eye thriller. Still hurting over his recent divorce and pursued by his former employer’s assassins, antihero Taltos decides to get out of town for a bit and heads to a neighboring country in search of long-lost relatives. Accompanied by his familiars, telepathic flying lizards Loiosh and Rocza, with Loiosh playing the role of a classic B-movie sidekick (“What’s the play, Boss?”), Taltos meets with hostile reactions and a warning not to ask too many questions. Then his remaining family in the area is wiped out in a suspicious fire, and he must uncover a complex conspiracy with stealth, brute force and an endless supply of wisecracks. Longtime fans may miss familiar surroundings and characters, but will enjoy the trip into Taltos’s family’s past; newcomers will appreciate the noir touches and benefit from Brust’s deft touch with exposition.
Reviewed on: 05/05/2008