Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This may surprise my faithful review followers, but this book should have been the sequel, not the first (or only). Why? Read on...
Fifty years ago there were the God Wars (over what is not quite clear) and when the dust settled, all the gods were dead (or reformed, or something) with the exception of Alt Coulumb, still ruled by Kos Everburning (a fire god). Kos' lover, Seril (a moon goddess... I think) was remade into Justice and her Guardians (aka gargoyles) banished. Instead, Justice has Blacksuits, people who are kind of like the Borg in that they have a hive mind and are virtually invincible, but their connection to Justice is more of an incredible high. The world works via a series of power contracts between the former gods and various Powers That Now Be (including some Deathless Kings, but they're not quite explained). All this is sort of organized by Craftsmen and Craftswomen, who work some sort of magic. It's a little confusing.
We open with Tara, who has been kicked out of the Hidden Schools following an insurrection against one of her professors (she burns down his lab - only 2/3 of the way through the book do we learn why she did this). After an unfortunate episode with some guardian zombies (don't ask), she's whisked off to work on the case of Kos Everburning's death, which is tied to the death of Judge Cabot. Her boss, Elayne Kevarin, and the obligatory faithful Acolyte, Abelard, along with a Blacksuit/vampire bite addict named Cat and a vampire pirate, Raz, complete the group trying to figure out who (or what) killed Kos.
Confused? Yeah, me too. Had this world been introduced with Tara, her life in the Hidden Schools and what led up to her being expelled - slowly explaining Craft, how the gods worked, etc. - and then followed up with this "mystery" it would have been far better.
ARC provided by publisher.