Saturday, March 22, 2014

Talus and the Frozen King

 " A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travelers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit."

   How do you search for justice in a world that has yet to invent the term or even the concept? Where death, even, murder, is just something that happens. This is the question that author Graham Edwards poses and deftly answers in his new novel, TALUS AND THE FROZEN KING.
   Talus, the wandering bard and his friend Bran are travelers in Neolithic Scotland. They stumble across the small island community of Creyak just in time to get accused of the murder of Creyak's king, who was found frozen in the snow. Fortunately Talus's cleverness keeps the guys alive long enough for them to be cleared of the murder, but Talus burns with an insatiable curiosity and he won't leave Creyak until he gets to the bottom of the crime.
   Though not clones of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, there are definitely similarities between the classic sleuths and the stone-age detectives. Talus is quirky, brilliant, and somewhat hard to get along with. He has Holmes' flair for the dramatic (Hello, he's a bard) and ability to notice things that everyone else would miss. Bran is solid and stolid, but possesses quite a bit more emotional range than Watson. (Not that this would be difficult. Watson was a brick.) Bran has lost his wife in a tragic occurrence and part of the reason he's wandering is to try and make sense of a world without her in it.
   The series is subtitled THE WORLD'S FIRST DETECTIVE, and that makes for some interesting and humorous scenes. How do you draw a diagram of a crime scene in a world where maps don't exist and the very abstract idea is too much for a large segment of the population to grasp? I don't think Talus will be making any calls to the CSI team.
   Anyway, I've read a ton of whodunits, so I know how they work and this is a good one. The characters are likeable, and the plot is well thought out and plays fair. I read this in two sittings, so that shows that I enjoyed it. I would definitely read the next book in the series. My only concern for the series is one of marketing. The cover looks like a fantasy novel and in some ways it is, because Edwards is writing about a time period we have few records of, and is therefore inventing a world,language, etc much as he would have to do for a full out fantasy. But the plot is pure mystery. I'm afraid that fantasy readers may be upset that the book isn't what they were expecting and mystery readers might not find it. And that would be a shame, because it's a really fun book. Hopefully it will find an audience and there will be plenty of sequels to follow.

For more on Graham Edwards go to his website here.


Keith West said...

This one is in my TBR pile. I've got a couple I need to finish first. I should get to it around the first of April. I'm looking forward to it.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

I think you'll like it, Keith.