Shadow Executive Killarney of the mysterious Bureau is investigating unexplained deaths – of angels…
Lavie Tidhar’s novella is dedicated to Adam Hall and Quiller – if you know who those two gentlemen are (or rather were), then you’re in for a treat with a pitch perfect homage to a classic spy series.
For those who don’t, Adam Hall (real name Elleston Trevor) wrote a series of novels featuring a British agent, codename Quiller, which are gritty, realistic and incredibly tense. Chapters jump in to the middle of a scene, often a fight, and then return to where the previous one ended; Controls are humourless, bland civil servants who have a particular knack. All of the above feature in Tidhar’s book, along with other little details.
Killarney is operating in a world where there are archangels inside Notre Dame in Paris and St Paul’s in London, where a demon lurks in the Lubyanka. It’s a cold war with far more at stake than simply (!) nuclear destruction, where mankind faces a common enemy but can’t quite get its act in gear to work as one, and where mankind’s own worst side can still find a way to become important. There’s been time for unfinished business to fester like an open sore…
If you enjoy cold war spy fiction you’ll get a wry smile from the way that Tidhar uses the tropes and then bends them in service of his own plot; if it’s the idea of mankind interacting with angels that attracts you then this is worth seeking out – fans of Lou Morgan’s Blood & Feathers series should definitely look for this different take.
Verdict: A smart fusion of fantasy and cold war spy fiction. 8/10