Series: Apparatus Infernum #1
Published by Ace on 30 April 2013
In the first line of Chapter 1, Mikani writes of being seduced while he dreamt. I was seduced by this novel while I read. I was enchanted by the characterisation, thorough world building and solid mystery wrapped up in a steampunk setting and tied with a magic bow. Police detectives Janus Mikani and Celeste Ritsuko work the night shift at the Criminal Investigation Department. When a girl from a royal house goes missing and later shows up dead, Mikani and Ritsuo have to solve the political hot potato fast or risk losing their careers. The pressure mounts as the body count rises and our dynamic duo realise they have a serial killer on their hands who is targeting women from old Ferisher (fey) Houses.
Ritsuko and Mikani are binary opposites – she relies on attention to detail and her people skills while Mikani, who has a little bit of Ferisher blood in him, uses his ‘other’ senses to detect thoughts. Ritsuko had to work hard for her position and is often treated as the token female. I imagine this is where her precision comes from as it is hard to argue with solid facts. Mikani is a lovable rogue that is good with his fists. Using his sixth sense has a high cost but he uses it anyway and has to resort to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pain. This is far from ideal but it shows the lengths he is willing to go to in order to ensure justice is done. Aguirre teases at a potential relationship between Mikani and Ritsuko but I was glad that it doesn’t go very far because that would change the dynamics between them. It was refreshing to see two partners that were so in tune with each other they didn’t need to voice all their thoughts and genuinely respected each other’s abilities. One aspect that did irk me though was the overuse of the phrase ‘partner’. If these two put a dollar in a jar every time they used that phrase, they would be as rich as the Ferisher houses. One character that keeps popping up is Aurelia. We even get part of the story told from her point of view. This does add depth to the mystery and world but using her is cheating a little as it gives the audience such an advantage over the detectives.
This book is quite dense in terms of its world building and characterisation. You simply cannot afford to blithely skip through it or you will miss the minutiae of detail our authors provided and that would be a real shame. If the authors are not in sync and the editor is not effective, it is often really easy to see sections written in different styles. Fortunately that is not the case in this novel as transitions are seamless and I have no idea who wrote what.
Bronze Gods is a police procedural in a steampunk setting. This means that we have paperwork to deal with, lots of loose ends to tie up and time spent pounding the beat (or the steampunk equivalent). I adore mysteries and so this style worked for me. The integration of steampunk was very effective because it wasn’t stuck in your face but mentioned matter-of-factly, much like I imagine it would if this was a real world. This meant that there were aspects of the world that were not fully explained and the reader is left to work them out using the context provided. I much prefer this style to being metaphorically beaten over the head with explanations of mechanical devices and systems.
Put simply, this is an engrossing and entertaining novel. The paranormal and steampunk elements enriched the absorbing mystery. I can’t wait for number two in the series.