When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City, even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some dark paths.
Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole, let alone how far down it goes.
Word Count: 58000
Sex Content: N/A
Warnings: Depictions of graphic violence and mention of dogfights
Reviewed by Rebecca
Having read the first in this series, I was eager to get my hands on the second. The combination of noir and a not-too-distant-future setting remains intriguing. I'm also always happy to see women at the forefront of genre fiction, an area where there's still a lot of ground to cover in terms of diversity.
One of the strongest elements of the Cassie Tam Files is the development of Cassie's environment in both tangible and intangible terms. Doyle continues to expand New Hopeland, a city that grows and unfolds as a character in its own right.
The city is caught between its industrial roots and a corporation-driven, technological future. As a past-meets-present hybrid (much like Cassie herself, who shares a sympathetic and symbiotic relationship with the city), New Hopeland is the perfect breeding ground for a complex criminal underworld; an underworld writhing with corruption and decay. But much like weeds that break through the foundations of an ancient building, that decay and destruction has become necessary to maintain the integrity of New Hopeland. The challenge for Cassie? To know which criminals hold New Hopeland together, and which threaten to tear the place apart.
There's a sense of the anachronistic in The Fox, the Dog, and the King which, to me, works very well. Like today, there's a gap between what is possible with technology, and what people feel comfortable doing with it. Cassie seems a little behind-with-the-times, so to speak, but I would say most of today's population is, too. I own an iPhone, but I doubt I explore more than 10% of its capabilities. This aspect of her characterisation helps keep her grounded, likeable, and believable.
This book had, I believe, a better balance between movement and stagnation. I am not usually a reader of crime fiction, so in any detective story, I find it a challenge to follow extensive passages that explore the sleuth's inner thoughts and/or solo investigations into data and documents. This isn't a criticism of either of Doyle's books, but rather a comment on my own reading tastes and less-than-fantastic ability to follow technical or super-specific, complex descriptions. It's the same problem I have when I read 'hard' scifi. For readers who, like me, aren't always patient with crime fiction, you'll find this book more easy-going than Book 1 in the series.
The F/F relationship between Cassie and Lori continues to unfurl itself in soft increments. Lori features quite a lot in the early chapters of the book but, as the case heats up, becomes a background character -- though she's never far from Cassie's thoughts. In terms of the other characters, I quite enjoyed Hanson and I hope we get to see more of her in the books to come.
On the whole, this is another effectively constructed futuristic noir crime fiction from Matt Doyle. I love stories with a living, evolving setting and on that count, TFTFATK certainly delivers.
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