Airship Hunters by Jim Beard and Duane Spurlock, Meteor House, p/b, $18.00, Website
Reviewed by Dave Brzeski
It’s actually not a steampunk book, despite the title and cover. It’s 1897 and Lieutenant Michael Valiantine, agent of the War Department in Washington, is assigned to investigate the various airship sightings—we’d call them UFO reports. US treasury agent, William Cabot, is sent to investigate some strange coins that have been surfacing in various places, which leads him to several incredibly brutal murders—which just happen to take place in the same locations as some of the mysterious “airship” sightings. When Valiantine and Cabot find themselves teamed up, as the first agents of a new department, to be known as “Air Marshals”, they have no idea what they are getting into.
They encounter ferocious beast-like creatures with a penchant for ripping victims limb from limb. People aren’t always who they seem to be and, of course, there are those mysterious airships.
Jim Beard and Duane Spurlock write alternating chapters, yet it’s difficult to detect any noticeable variance in writing style, which is impressive. The really clever thing, though, is the way the protagonists, while bringing the case to a conclusion, never really manage to work out exactly what is going on. Enough clues are presented, so us 21st Century readers can work out more than Valiantine and Cabot, but still, there are more questions than answers. This leaves the way clear for a sequel at some point, and I will be very disappointed if there isn’t one.
I was always going to be interested in this book. Jim Beard is an author I’ve come to trust, and I’ve yet to see a bad book from Meteor House. I hadn’t previously read anything by Duane Spurlock, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye open for more of his work.
This first edition is limited to the number of preorders it gets, so if you want to get a copy (and why wouldn’t you?) go to the website and place your orders now. As an added incentive, if you get your order in before the cut-off date, which has been extended to July 13th 2015, your name will appear in the thanks section of the book.