Here, the criminal is king. The streets are filled with the screeching of fish hags, the cries of swindled merchants, the inviting murmurs of working girls. Here, people can disappear, and the lacklustre efforts of the guard ensure they are never found. Warden is an ex-soldier who has seen the worst men have to offer; now a narcotics dealer with a rich, bloody past and a way of inviting danger. You’d struggle to find someone with a soul as dark and troubled as his. But then a missing child, murdered and horribly mutilated, is discovered in an alley. And then another. With a mind as sharp as a blade and an old but powerful friend in the city, he’s the only man with a hope of finding the killer. If the killer doesn’t find him first.
Author: Daniel Polansky
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Release Date: 24/05/2012
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘The Straight Razor Cure’: 5 out of 5
The Straight Razor Cure is one of those books that a couple of pages in I just knew I was going to love it. I find anything written in first person perspective is just so easy to read and flows well. That perspective somehow (for me) feels less of a chore to get through. So seeing this written in that way excited me.
Add to that the fact that I like my fantasy grim and dark, and the fact that this is essentially a dark fantasy detective novel, I was literally contemplating just not finishing what I was reading so I could get to this quicker. The world that Daniel Polansky has created is one of misery. The rich live well and the poor live badly, separated into different parts of the town so the rich don’t have to have their air sullied. A plague had hit the population hard in the past and the city’s populace lived in fear of such a plague returning. You then thrust a cast of extremely well-written and well-fleshed out characters into said backdrop and it makes for wonderful reading.
The protagonist, Warden, is a former special agent turned drug dealer in the less desirable part of the city (Low Town). Warden has one of the bleakest outlooks on life and, despite the fact his demeanour isn’t one that would draw people towards him, you (and a fiercely loyal group of people in his life) can’t help but love/support him. When the corpse of a small girl is found horribly mutilated, Warden takes it upon himself to, grudgingly, look into the killing. And then more tiny bodies begin to appear in the back alleys of Low Town.
I can’t help but feel that, despite the fact Warden seems only to want and care for himself, he’s one of those sorts that having responsibility brings out the best in him.
Daniel Polansky’s clever turn of phrase and dry wit often remind me of Ed McDonald’s Blackwing. It was one of those books that I found very difficult to put down. Some of the deductions I thought were a bit far-fetched but, in a roundabout way, everything seemed to tie in very nicely at the end.
The fight/action scenes are well written and I especially like the way the character of Warden is presented. As touched upon earlier; the author presents him in a way that, if you knew him, you’d hate him. But, as a reader, I couldn’t help but love his dour outlook on everything. I’d be curious to see what other readers think of Warden.
Anyone who enjoys dark fantasy written in a very gritty, grim way really should give this a try. Really looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.