Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Reader's Review: "Jacq Of Spades" by Patricia Loofburrow

Synopsis from Amazon:

Kidnapping. Murder. Betrayal.
Can you ever truly hide from your past?
In a far future US, the once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is now split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs.
22 year old Jacqueline Spadros was kidnapped from her mother's brothel and sold to the Spadros syndicate ten years ago. The murder of her best friend Air that night as he tried to save her from them haunts her nightmares. Now unwillingly married to one of the city's biggest drug lords, she finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law.
Air's little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.
Dark, gritty, multi-layered Victorian-inspired detective neo-noir that keeps the reader guessing to the very end.


My Review:

What is the last book you read that absolutely carried you away with a breathtakingly fantastic world that was at the same time innovative and nostalgically familiar? The book that immersed you in the experiences and thoughts of its characters, while at the same time giving you something real and tangible that you could relate to on an intellectual level?

This is that book.
I downloaded it sight-unseen, knowing nothing about what it contained, only that the books came recommended by an author I enjoyed and trusted--those kinds of "network recommends" have yet to steer me wrong!
JACQ OF SPADES is no exception.
I loved Bridges. I loved everything about this book: the pacing, the characters, the design of not just the new topography, but the society formed around it. I loved the intrigue and the constant card references; I loved the build-up of suspense, the secrets, the lively peril and marvelous subtle ways Loofburrow dug in against both patriarchy and toxic masculinity that pervaded a Victorian-era society, without ever doing the thing that an author with less tact would do, which I refer to as "force-feeding" the reader with certain ideas, or "beating one over the head" with a certain paradigm. Loofburrow exemplifies in her character Jacqueline just exactly the sort of woman who is not only keenly aware of such social norms, but also of how wrong they are. Statements like "no one ever asked me" and descriptions of subtle microexpressions rather than directly labeling the emotions, as well as observations about her own social limitations paints a sympathetic character, and wins us over when she can use these supposed "restrictions" to her favor.
I loved it all the way to the end, where it left me breathless, pawing at the screen of my device as if that would make more pages appear. The mystery is thick, I'm still guessing--and there is really no telling how it's all going to turn out!

Most definitely, I would rate this book every last one of *****5 STARS*****. In fact, with the level of quality displayed in these pages, I would also add an Upstream Writer Certified HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you're a fan of steampunk, Victorian-era detective novels, or you're bored and want a long series full of clever puns and massive amounts of intrigue, I hear The Red Dog Conspiracy series is projected to run for at least thirteen books (one for each card value in a deck, I assume?) so it appears I am happily destined to be a Loofburrow fan for a very long time!

Further Reading: (Steampunk/Great World-Building/Compelling Plot)
-Domechild--Shiv Ramdas
-Warriors of the Edge--Katie Bridges
-The Boy Named Topaz--Jeffrey Gartshore  
The Untamed Series--Madeline Dyer
The Vemreaux Trilogy--Mary E. Twomey
       -The Way
       -The Truth
       -The Lie
-Sky Knight--Sandra Harvey
Dawn of Steam Trilogy--Jeffrey Cook
      -First Light
      -Gods of The Sun
      -Rising Suns  
Punk Anthologies--Jeffrey Cook et al.
      -Sound & Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk, Vol. 1
      -Shakespeare Goes Punk, Vol. 2: Once More Unto The Breach
The Chronicles of Lorrek--Kelly Blanchard
        -Someday I'll Be Redeemed
        -I Still Have A Soul
        -I'm Still Alive
Lord of the Wyrde Woods--Nils Visser
     -Escape From Neverland
     -Dance Into The Wyrd
The Cadeau Series--Connie Olvera
       -Who Can You Trust? 

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