Thursday, February 15, 2007

Snakes ... Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

This book is a great example of lateral fiction thinking. Snake Agent is an eclectic blend of science fiction, Chinese mythology, fantasy, and hard-boiled detective stories. Detective Inspector Chen is a Police Detective in the futuristic city of Singapore Three with a penchant towards solving supernatural cases. When asked to find out what happened to the ghost of a rich industrialist's daughter, his superiors partner him with a Demon from the wrong side of Hell.

So does it work? Liz Williams does a great job of immersing the reader in a world that is completely alien to the average person. Not only does she have to introduce Singapore Three as a futuristic city with new types of technology (including roll out desktop computers), but also introduce the reader to a very complex Chinese-style mythology.

In spite of this daunting task, Liz Williams weaves what starts out as a supernatural detective story, which morphs into an apocalyptic thriller involving a possible war between the forces of Heaven and Hell. It is a good, solid narrative, but loses its focus about half way through the book.

Snake Agent is the first in a series of novels involving Detective Inspector Chen. The next one up is The Demon and the City and is already in hardcover.

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