The Year of the Knife is by G D Penman – who I assumed was going to be a woman, but actually is a bloke with a very impressive beard. It’s a joyful romp – one to pick up in the middle of the night when you’re worried about something, or to read in a waiting room – enough action to engage, but a sense of being in safe hands.
Sully is the protagonist. She’s great. A tough woman doing a man’s job in a man’s world. Its alternative reality time – a version of our world, where magic is real, organised, and built in to the system; the British Empire is alive and well and keeping its boot on the throat of all those pesky foreigners; Europe is cut off because of severe Demon infestation, and sexism is alive and well. Even more alive and well than in our reality. Sully works for the IBI (Imperial, not Federal…) and she has magic in her very bones.
Now, I like a bit of supernatural policing (Rivers of London! John Connolly!!) and I like an alternate reality, but I wasn’t sure if this was going to work. It did coax me in, though, and once there I stuck with it for the ride. Like I said, it’s a romp, there’s some real humour in there, and it has a few jabs at prejudice and racism (always satisfying). There were some moments of violence that I might have found disturbing if we hadn’t been galloping on to the next scene. And I will never look a macaws in quite the same way again.
I’m wondering if he’s left room to make this the start of a series? The ending felt like it had the potential to be the beginning of something new.