A review by stranger_sights
The Last Smile in Sunder City, by Luke Arnold


Ok, so I’ve never seen Black Sails (although I have thought to myself that I really should), so I went into this knowing nothing of Luke Arnold other than that he is apparently an actor on that show. After finishing this book, I now know one more thing – he is a hell of a writer.

The Last Smile in Sunder City is equal parts urban fantasy and detective noir – two genres I’m generally a big fan of. It delivers admirably on what I want from both genres – there are magical (well formerly magical, technically) creatures, a big city, plenty of normal ol’ humans, and a hardboiled, slightly pickled detective.

This particular detective, or ‘man for hire’ as he is known, is Fetch Phillips (what a charmingly noir name, amirite?). The story begins with him being hired to locate a missing vampire by the name of Edmund Albert Rye. He is three hundred years old, and since the magic died, he has been fading fast.

However, as is usually the case, there is much more to the story of Edmund Rye than is initially apparent. We follow Fletch as he gathers information, deals with his own demons, other peoples’ demons, and what might be an actual demon, and puts the pieces of this complicated puzzle together.

The characters are as complex and nuanced as the mystery that Fletch has been tasked with solving. There are few flat characters here. Everyone has some bit of back story, and everyone has a reason for the choices they make. This is, at its core, less a mystery than it is a tale of choice, consequence, and redemption.