Fantasy Review: ‘Master of Plagues’ by E.L. Tettensor

An outbreak of plague is not a crime. That it occurs in a city that acts as a major trading Master of Plagues (Nicolas Lenoir, #2)center is hardly suspicious. Yet Investigator Lenoir and his protégé Kody are asked to meet with a medical man who believes there is a crime involved. And after only a short investigation it is clear the man is right; this plague was deliberately brought into the city. Which means it is now Lenoir’s problem. It is up to him and Kody to find the who and why before everything in the city boils over.

Leaving behind the supernatural seen in Darkwalker we get a more conventional detective story in Master of Plagues. Lenoir finds himself knee deep in everything this disease is affecting. Beyond figuring out who is responsible and why he also is running increased tensions within the city. All the old favorites born of fear start showing themselves; disaster profiteering, unrest, and of course racial divides. It appears to some that the Adali may be immune to the disease, though in reality the groupe just has better treatment methods. But in a time where sickness is blamed on bad humors in the air and leeches are a large part of every treatment plan it is unclear if the Adali’s ways will be accepted by the larger population or if it will just make them even more of a target to fear.

Master of Plagues never reached the high bar that I felt Darkwalker provided. I felt it lacked for ot having some of the supernatural elements, though I did like that those present were presented ina way that left their actually supernaturalness up in the air. I also felf Lenoir was a bit too slow to the obvious answer of motive this time around; there are only two good reasons someone would start a plague I could think of( baring true lack of sanity), and Lenoir never grabbed onto the one that seemed more obvious to this reader. Perhaps in attempts not to lead the reader to obvious conclusions the actual ‘Master’ of this plague is never developed, making his/her final reveal anti-climatic.

Despite that it is a fun detective/adventure story. Lenoir’s battles both with the case and with incompetency of those above him has not failed to interest me yet. It is made better still by the fact that the incompetent are realistically so rather than pure caricatures; only one person is laughable stupid while others just make bad decisions. It is worth noting that part of what makes Lenoir endearing is he also is prone to bad decisions despite a high intellect.

While this is a second book the series seems to be more along the lines of connected stand alones. Certainly one could read this book without reading Darkwalker (though, as stated above, I think that would not be the correct decision). But for those paying attention there also seems to e a long game being played in the background that will connect the series eventually. Tied no doubt to the ‘Darkwalker’ and those Lenoir connected with in books thus far. Something I will look forward too.

Not as good as Darkwalker but still a short and fun diversion. I am looking forward to seeing how some of the longer plotlines tie together as the series progresses.

3 stars

Copy for review provided by publisher.

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