Urban Historical Hardboiled Fantasy in Boston
I picked Thieftaker for reviewing because it kept showing up on my radar and I figured that I was meant to read it. I am not sure I would have normally been drawn to the title, but I think I came across four different reviews in the same week just through my normal internet surfing and book browsing. Kudos to the Tor marketing team. It didn’t feel like marketing, but that kind of exposure could not have been a coincidence. I usually prefer my fantasy to be more epic and less urban, but all of the reviews I saw were good and the more I learned the more interested I became.
I think it is fair to say I liked D.B. Jackson’s book right from the start. DB Jackson is a new pseudonym for the author David B. Coe who has written fantasy novels and has a Ph.D. in US History from Stanford. He has combined the two careers to create a great read. The story centers around the title-named thieftaker, Ethan Kaille, who uses his magic to help find stolen items and is reluctantly drawn into helping solve a murder. The system of magic is fairly non-intrusive and is not the star of the book, which is a refreshing change from some of the fantasy I have read lately (cough…Branden Sanderson…cough…Brent Weeks..cough). In case you are wondering what a thieftaker is, think private investigator, but before they had a name for it. I’m not sure I saw this comparison made in the reviews I came across, but for me this book was like reading a good murder mystery with a street savvy private eye, only with magic and some founding fathers mixed in.
I won’t go too much into the plot because it rolls itself out very well, but a quick outline is that Kaille is pulled into solving a murder because people seem to know he is a conjurer even though it isn’t something he advertises. A rival non-magical thieftaker, Sephira Pryce, doesn’t care for him encroaching on her territory, but allows him to operate on the cases that might require his additional skills. She isn’t very nice about it though. Pretty soon the novel has that classic lone-wolf PI-who-is-in-way-over-his-head feel. Which I really enjoy. I will be looking for the next book in the Thieftaker Chronicles coming out next summer.