Rabarts and Murray (At the Edge) mix crime drama and horror in this lively, promising series launch set in a near-future Auckland, New Zealand. Scientific researcher Pandora “Penny” Yee has been hired to help figure out what happened at a messy crime scene. Her psychically gifted brother, Matiu, who serves as her driver and bodyguard at their father’s insistence, does not like the look of the case: there are odd circumstances surrounding the crime (which may or may not have been a murder), and he hears voices telling him to interfere with the investigation. But Penny is desperate for her lab business to succeed so she can repay a loan from her demanding parents and maybe even earn their respect, so she insists on sticking with it, dismissing Matiu’s connection with the spirit world as “talking to his imaginary friend.” As Penny and Matiu pursue the case further, they realize they are on the brink of otherworldly intrigue and terror. Written with verve, Rabarts and Murray’s novel has as much heart as suspense. The characters brim with life. Penny and Matiu’s sibling banter is both entertaining and bitter, colored by the complicated history of their multiracial family. The authors’ use of Maori and New Zealander terminology throughout gives a sense of place. The horrific parts of the narrative have a tendency to fall a little flat, and true, exhilarating terror is never reached. Otherwise, Rabarts and Murray’s joint effort puts a delightful, refreshing spin on urban fantasy tropes. (Aug.)
On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the lack of a body in the congealing pool of blood in the locked room or that odd little bowl.
Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.
Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.
“…a wild and gruesome treat, packed with mystery, action, and dark humor. Horror fans will devour it!” —Jeff Strand, author of Wolf Hunt
“Filled with an incredible unity of voice and magnificent world building, Hounds of the Underworld was impossible to put down. I was hooked on the first page.” —Jake Bible, Bram Stoker Award-nominated novelist and author of Z-Burbia, Mega, and Salvage Merc One
“A dark tech-noir so near to our future, it could be tomorrow, hard-boiled and hair-raising! One of the best speculative fiction novels ever written.”
—Paul Mannering, Engines of Empathy