Titanshade by Dan Stout
DAW, pb, £6.14
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Carter is a homicide detective whose career is on a downward slide. A good cop but politically an embarrassment to the department, he is assigned cases which are transferred to other detectives to finish, so Carter’s name never reaches the press. However, the murder of a high-ranking Squib diplomat throws Carter into the limelight once again.
Titanshade is an industrial town built from oil wealth. The divide between the rich and poor is gargantuan, and magic is only for the super-elite. But its golden glory is fading as the oil dries up. Without the investment from the Squibs, Titanshade will fall as an economic powerhouse. Carter has to uncover the murderer and bring them to justice, not just for the city he loves and hates in equal measure, but also for his own redemption.
Titanshade starts as all good detective noir stories do, in a dingy bar. As we progress through Titanshade and meet the other races, Mollenkampi and Squibs, we move from the gutters to the opulent heights of a city built on oil. The story is written in the first-person through Carter’s point of view. His world-weary, downtrodden nature means that the fantastic elements are handled as a standard operating procedure, which for Carter, they are. This combines the detective noir and urban fantasy elements seamlessly making for a gripping read.
Carter is an amazing vehicle for the story because he is so unreliable. His past, which I won’t go into for the sake of being spoiler-free, impacts everything about his present. At times, he is so blinkered, it’s obvious he is wrong, but by that time, I cared so much about Carter, I was almost shouting at the book. Luckily, Carter is a shrewd character, and he picks up quickly where his mistakes are, and he isn’t the sort of person to make the same ones twice.
With plenty of twists and turns, Titanshade is a fast-paced novel with a cast of unusual, yet familiar characters. The world-building is strong and imaginative, and the best part is it’s the first in a new series. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one, Titan’s Day. Highly recommended.