The Last Smile in Sunder City v Independence

Book: The Last Smile in Sunder City
Author: Luke Arnold
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2020

It’s been 6 years since magic left the world. This isn’t such a disaster for humanity but for the world’s magical entities it has been catastrophic. Dragons can no longer fly, the immortal races are no longer immortal and crucially for the mystery Fetch Phillips is tasked with investigating, Vampires can no longer drink blood to renew themselves.

Fetch is a PI. He’s a depressed borderline alcoholic who blames himself for the loss of magic from the world, perhaps not entirely unjustifiably. In the post-magic world he is drowning his sorrows whilst waiting for the chance to do something meaningful to help to fall into his lap.

His latest case is to track down a missing teacher, who is also a vampire. What follows is as good a crime thriller as you will find, with the added bonus of it being filled with an almost Prachett level of satire. It’s hard not to see the underlying current of climate change discourse in the book. Sunder CIty has suffered as much if not more than most places from the Coda (the event which caused the loss of magic) It was built around great dwarven forges which have now gone cold. What is left is a city desperate to find its way back to prosperity but with a government bureaucracy almost entirely unsuited to the task.

The blending of crime noir and a fantasy setting isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but what sets this book apart and allows it the freedom to breathe is in its characterisation. There is a lot of the dramatic in the book. For those who don’t know, the author played Long John Silver in the series Black Sails and the actor in him shines through in his dialogue.

Beer: Independence
Brewery: Bristol Beer Factory
Style: Pale Ale
Strength: 4.6%

Quite a busy beer. Lots of hops always equals lots of flavour but it’s in making sure that mix doesn’t end up overpowering that the magic is found. This beer stands on the knife edge between delicious and too much but ultimately lands on the right side. I was happily sipping it while watching TV and putting work as far out of my mind as I could.

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