Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Reads 2010: Johannes Cabal

It's that time of year again--your friendly neighborhood librarians are eager to tell you about their favorite reads of 2010. Here is Cherie H. with a review:

My nomination for the most fun read I had in 2010:

JOHANNES CABAL THE DETECTIVE, by Jonathan L. Howard

If a story that is a melding of murder mystery, steampunk, film noir and Sherlock Holmes sounds interesting to you, then run, don’t walk, to the stacks and pick up this book!

Since I am a fan of steampunk, the cover caught my eye, but Howard also had me with the first page as he described Johannes Cabal sitting in a dungeon waiting for his execution in the company of cats. The cats are there to keep down the vermin population, but the mental picture of dungeon cells with cat-doors just delighted me and off I went on this fantastic murder mystery/adventure.

Johannes Cabal, a "necromancer of some little infamy," returns in this twisted tale of murder and intrigue aboard the aeroship Princess Hortense. He’s on the run, using the identity of a minor government bureaucrat, but when a fellow passenger’s death appears to Cabal to be a murder, he finds himself in the role of Sherlock, while narrowly escaping death himself.

The writing is clever, campy, and fresh. If you like Terry Pratchett, you will like Jonathan Howard. His humorous turn of phrase, his unique characters, and his description of a place that sounds like it should be Eastern Europe but in the next dimension over, is fully realized and populated with characters just as rich and off-center. The humor is dark and tongue-in-cheek, and he has a great knack with description that leaves you grinning, while easily visualizing the off-beat world he has created.

This is the second book of the series, and the minute I finished it I read the first book, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, which I enjoyed as well. Cabal is a wonderfully sardonic anti-hero, clever and crafty, never taking life too seriously. It’s my hope that Howard will be sharing many more of the adventures of Johannes Cabal.

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