cover image Mermaid Precinct (Cliff’s End Castle Guard #5)

Mermaid Precinct (Cliff’s End Castle Guard #5)

Keith R.A. DeCandido. eSpec, $14.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-942990-92-5

A smattering of Scooby Doo mixes with a liberal pinch of police procedural in DeCandido’s fun and carefree fifth novel (after Gryphon Precinct) set in a fantasy world where the beings of Cliff’s End Castle Guard keep the peace. The city of Cliff’s End in the kingdom of Flingaria is home to all manner of people, including a massive influx of refugees from Barlin, a sister city recovering from a massive fire. The devastation is undeniable, but many in Cliff’s End regard the refugees with suspicion. When the Pirate Queen’s ship arrives and she’s found dead on board, the crew insists that Lt. Danthres Tresyllione of the Castle Guard investigate her death. Danthres, who once lived in a community served by the Pirate Queen, and her partner, Lt. Torin ban Wyvald, are more than up to the challenge of tackling the mystery, but they’re stymied by the tight-knit loyalty of the Pirate Queen’s crew and the lack of outside suspects. Then their investigation uncovers something terrifying that could threaten the entire kingdom. This energetic romp is light on the surface, but it tackles the issue of xenophobia head-on with surprising grace. Agent: Lucienne Diver, Knight Agency. (May)