How do you stop a killer who’s already dead?
Some secrets never die. When the mutilated corpse of an ex-con is found in the bowels of an old church, haunting Biblical verses scrawled at the crime scene speak of divine retribution, and a killer hellbent on revenge. For Special Crimes detective Tom “Doc” Holliday doesn’t need his fickle clairvoyance to see that a murder like this is only the beginning.
With few leads and fewer suspects, Holliday and his quirky team of paranormal specialists embark upon an investigation that will lead them down a dark and twisted path, and test the bonds of family and friendship. From the frozen streets of Little Odessa to the diabolical wealth of Park Avenue, Holliday will need more than his Insight to hunt down an unstoppable killer.
But when Holliday suspects the killer might not be what it seems, he’ll have to unravel a twisted web of greed and lies to save an innocent soul, or lose his own, and watch his world die.
Welcome back to Empire City!
Pieces of Eight, the second novel in The Guardian of Empire City series, continues the story with our gang of powered individuals of the Special Crime Unit while delving a lot deeper into Holliday’s past. I loved the first book, and this one didn’t disappoint, yet took a quick detour with a story that felt episodic but excellent as well.
Our heroes once again face a series of supernatural elements concerning a murder, and similar to the first book, the more we expose clues from the parties affected the deeper the rabbit hole goes, and that is one of Peter’s strengths in how he builds the puzzle piece by piece. And considering he does it all while leveraging monsters, fantastic powers and science-driven contraptions makes the ride all the sweeter.
The core of the story of this second book also heavily centered on getting to know what happened to Holliday’s history, who he is and how his family affected his past, present and future. This was a sizable piece to deliver without immersing us into flashback info dumps, and Peter did it beautifully through selected events as part of the main narrative, and I truly enjoyed getting to know Doc better. Nothing felt forced and the main character’s history was weaved intricately through the leading investigation.
Two elements that drove my rating a bit down for this tome in the series are; one where the narrative moved slightly away from the main overarching plot that got started on the first book, where Peter sets up a villain-led team with Orpheus and Azarym and are temporarily touched on the second book. I hoped that we’d get a bit more face time with these guys. Two; and really trying to avoid spoilers here, the battle against our main antagonist of Pieces of Eight felt shaky, mostly in the elements used to deliver the final blow. Some might disagree, but I’ll leave it at that.
The Guardian of Empire City series is shaping up to be an amazing trilogy (or longer) series, much like the Dresden files by Jim Butcher. And the comparison doesn’t stop there. Every book so far is a big mystery to solve and contains urban fantasy (with also) sci-fi elements. So in conclusion, if you’re a rousing fan of big murder riddles set in worlds filled with shiny toys, magic dust and grim creatures of the night, Peter Hartog’s Pieces of Eight should be high on your TBR and is a near perfect sequel to Bloodlines.