City of Wolves is a gaslamp fantasy noir from debut author Willow Palecek.
Alexander Drake, Investigator for Hire, doesn’t like working for the Nobility, and doesn’t prefer to take jobs from strange men who accost him in alleyways. A combination of hired muscle and ready silver have a way of changing a man’s mind.
A lord has been killed, his body found covered in bite marks. Even worse, the late lord’s will is missing, and not everyone wants Drake to find it. Solving the case might plunge Drake into deeper danger.
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Games writer Palecek (The Arm) offers a tantalizing glimpse of an interesting imagined world in this short supernatural mystery. PI Alexander Drake had supported the losing side in a recent civil war in his fantasy kingdom, which closely resembles England, and now struggles to make a living "digging up dirty laundry for suspicious spouses." His rule about avoiding the nobility has left him broke, and he's willing to make an exception when he's offered a year's wages by Colin Abergreen to probe the murder of Colin's father, whose nude body was found, covered with canine bite marks, in the garden of his estate. Drake's investigation is fast-tracked after Colin learns that the Crown has dispatched a royal inspector to the scene of the crime, an indication that there are larger issues at stake than Drake had suspected. Palecek smartly underplays the supernatural element and makes it feel integral to the setting, opening with just a passing reference to Colin having located Drake via a wizard's tracking charm, and the conclusion sets the stage nicely for future books.