Poison City by Paul Crilley
Poison City is the first in a new Urban Fantasy series by Paul Crilley set in South Africa. The main protagonist, one Gideon Tau (nicknamed London Town) works for the Delphic Division of the South African police force. The Delphic Division keep all the supernaturals in the City from misbehaving and given the number of other worldly critters out there it isn’t an easy job! At the start of the story London is about to investigate the death of a ramanga who died a most violent death having not only his chest cavity laid waste to but also having had his head removed – well, I don’t suppose you can be too careful with vampires, even if the vampire in question is a down at the bottom of the pile, lowly, ramanga!
So the scene is set. London is sent to investigate. And the Body count is set to explode.
In terms of the setting. Based in Durban (otherwise fondly referred to as the Poison City that gives the book it’s name) we have a world where every sort of supernatural creature exists. If you can think of it then it no doubt lives – including Gods, angels and demons. There is a covenant in place between the supernaturals and humans which helps to keep the peace and the Delphic Division are the ones who enforce that agreement. Think Men in Black but with werewolves and vampires rather than aliens. It’s an interesting world full of dark possibilities and frankly crammed to the gills with imagination involving sea deities, secret fae markets and a labyrinth of waste tunnels where the effluence is the least worrying thing to deal with! On top of the supernatural element Crilley gives the story a different twist by throwing into the mix a society where corruption is rife amongst the topmost echelons and government officials.
The characters are a mixed bunch indeed. We have the Delphic Division which seem to include a number of none human employees and even a talking dog that provides spiritual guidance to the main character. London himself has a terrible history that haunts his dreams. His daughter has been murdered and his marriage ended as a result. It’s actually an incredibly sad storyline although maybe not the first time that we’ve seen it used to create a hard boiled and cynical detective. Basically London’s motivation now revolves solely around revenge! His actions are all led by his need to avenge his daughter’s death and whilst sometimes his rash decisions assist the work of the Division it does make him into something of a maverick who frequently makes the wrong choices with quite disastrous results. His sidekick, known only as Dog, does help to bring a measure of relief to the story by the use of the sarcastic banter between the two. Basically, the dog is a raging alcoholic with a penchant for sherry and soap operas and London is a man on a mission who also likes to find solace in the bottom of a bottle and isn’t above making some very self centred decisions. I think there is a lot of potential for both London and the dog to grow in this series. At the moment they’re entertaining but I wouldn’t say they’re really showing their full potential although being the first in the series there’s a lot to get across. I really liked the character Armitage, London’s hard assed boss who experiences a very unusual character development that I won’t elaborate on.
I can’t really write much more without spoiling the plot for other readers. I thought this was a fast paced, murder mystery, packed with supernatural elements and with an entertaining duo at it’s centre. There’s a very interesting magical system in place that involves tattoos and magical wands and the story is littered throughout with cultural references that will undoubtedly bring a cheesy grin to the faces of most readers.
I thought this was a really enjoyable read. A dark and cruel world that I certainly don’t want to live in but would definitely like to visit again through the pages of a book!
I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.