Publication Date: November 8, 2022
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
I’m not usually a fan of the hardboiled detective / noir genre, even though I always feel like I should be? But this was just gorgeous. I should have realized that if anyone could, CL Polk would be able to write a queer noir that would tug at my heart and keeep me riveted.
There was so much story here, for such a short book. I loved how specific a place and time it was set. Everything about it just screamed noir prohibition-era Chicago. Aside from the angels and demons, I suppose. But even they fit right in and didn’t feel at all out of place. It’s short but does a great job building the atmosphere. I was immediately hooked.
Helen presents as a typical noir detective (only a woman, and a queer one at that) except that she isn’t an awful person at all. She’s a bit rough around the edges, but she loves her girlfriend and her brother deeply and her decisions throughout the novella revolve around that. I think that’s what I love the most about this as opposed to more ‘typical’ noir – the amount of love and heart.
There is, of course, more to everything than it at first seems – so much more I’m surprised it all fits into this novella and the story isn’t bursting at the seams. It’s the perfect length, and yet I would read so much more of Helen and those she loves. And crime-solving, of course. Longer books, more books, a whole series of books.
The narrator was excellent and really brought the characters and story to life. It made the story even better, and her voice was very pleasant to listen to. I was fully immersed in the story for the entire time I was listening.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Recorded Books for providing an audio arc for review.