cover image The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter

Rod Duncan. Osprey/Angry Robot, $7.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-85766-530-0

Steeped in illusion and grounded in an alternative history of the Luddite Rebellion, Duncan’s strong supernatural mystery serves ably as both a standalone adventure and the start to a series. A rebellion has divided the United Kingdom into two republics. The prose’s arch-Victorian tone establishes both character and place in the voice of the admirably driven Elizabeth Barnabus, who poses as her nonexistent twin brother, Edwin, in order to work as a private detective in the starchy, straight-laced Anglo-Scottish Republic. Strategically placed steampunk tropes inform but do not overwhelm Elizabeth’s headlong quest to find a missing aristocrat sought by the Patent Office, which is fixated on both achieving perfection and eliminating “unseemly science.” A hazardous border crossing into the permissively corrupt Kingdom of England and Southern Wales provides ample excitement, and a glossary at the novel’s conclusion hints enticingly at a much more involved story to come. (Sept.)