A Holmes and Watson–style detective duo take the stage in this fantasy with a mystery twist, from the Edgar-winning, multiple Hugo-nominated Robert Jackson Bennett
“Superbly blends mystery and fantasy . . . Give me more of this world and these characters ASAP!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Gardiner
In Daretana’s greatest mansion, a high imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree erupted from his body. Even here at the Empire’s borders, where contagions abound and the blood of the leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death both terrifying and impossible.
Assigned to investigate is Ana Dolabra, a detective whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities. Rumor has it that she wears a blindfold at all times, and that she can solve impossible cases without even stepping outside the walls of her home.
At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol, magically altered in ways that make him the perfect aide to Ana’s brilliance. Din is at turns scandalized, perplexed, and utterly infuriated by his new superior—but as the case unfolds and he watches Ana’s mind leap from one startling deduction to the next, he must admit that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.
As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect.
By an “endlessly inventive” (Vulture) author with a “wicked sense of humor” (NPR), The Tainted Cup mixes the charms of detective fiction with brilliant world-building to deliver a fiendishly clever mystery that’s at once instantly recognizable and thrillingly new.
Bennett (the Founders trilogy) brilliantly melds genres in this exceptional mystery-fantasy, the first in his Shadow of the Leviathan series. Dinios Kol has been tapped to serve as the new assistant to Ana Dolabra, an eccentric investigator with a reputation for solving cases blindfolded and without leaving her home. Dolabra's recently been reassigned from the Khanum Empire's richest enclaves to a dull backwater, where she and Kol get a knotty problem to untangle. Kol, whose prior experience consists of investigating pay fraud in the Khanum military, is dispatched to the scene of an unnatural death at the estate of the Haza clan, one of the wealthiest in the land, who mysteriously maintain a house out in the sticks. Commander Taqtasa Blas was found in a guest bedroom with some leafy trees sprouting through his body. Blas, a friend of the Hazas, had a reputation for harassing the estate's female staff. Kol uses magic fluid to "engrave" the crime scene, impressing every detail on his mind to relate to his superior. Dolabra is intrigued by the apparently supernatural killing and sets about using her superior deductive skills to identify the killer. The worldbuilding is immediately involving, Bennett's take on a classic detective duo dynamic feels fresh and exciting, and the mystery itself twists and turns delightfully. Readers will be wowed.
Good page turner, as are the other Bennett books I’ve read. My only criticism is that it’s a bit derivative of The Founder’s trilogy where people are “augmented” in some way to give them powers. The difference here is that in this book, the augmentations are only on organic things, people, animals, plants. Nevertheless, this is a good mystery with great characters and good world building.
Fresh and interesting
Well written, interesting world.
Great murder mystery with a similar style to Foundry side, another RJB book. I like his characters and the world he built, at times his stories seem like they struggle to fill 450 pages. They start to feel a little drug out, hence three stars