Author Jonathan L. Howard
Things You Might Like
- Your favorite wry necromancer returns!
- Political intrigue…
- Reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes
Things You Might Not Like
- That same dark humor from the first novel
- A marked decrease in the supernatural
Johannes Cabal’s triumphant return brings with it even more humor, dry wit, and now adds spies!
4 out of 5 Ancient Tomes
America’s favorite Necromancer is back for yet another tale of murder, reincarnation, and more murder! This time, deals with the Devil are all in the past. Well, the literal Devil, at least. This time around, we open on Mr. Johannes Cabal clapped in irons for attempting to steal a priceless ancient manuscript detailing what else? Necromantic (is that a word?) rituals. While Cabal is a smooth talker and quick to action, he’s by no means a perfect thief. He’s thrown into a dungeon in the eastern European nation of Mirkarvia for not only the theft, but also his practical application of the text.
While awaiting a death sentence, Cabal is visited by a ruthless high-ranking military official, Count Marechal. The King of Mirkarvia, as it turns out, is dying. Then it turns out he’s actually dead and that doesn’t really work for Marchal. He needs Cabal to resurrect the King. Not for long, though. Just long enough for him to decry their neighbors as monsters and start a war. Partially to quell in-fighting and partially to spread Mirkarvia’s borders as far as Marechal wants it to. Cabal, as someone professionally disinterested in the affairs of men, agrees to help in exchange for his freedom. Things, of course, go awry and Cabal finds himself on the run from Mirkarvia’s military and the maleficent Marechal. What follows is an adventure involving airships, assassins, and arcane tomes.
Returning to a character beloved the Universe over (okay, not really), Howard’s second book in the Johannes Cabal series, Johannes Cabal the Detective, takes a noted turn from the first novel in that there is a marked decrease in the presence of the supernatural. While the overall protagonist is consistent with the first novel, the sequel really does see the emergence of Johannes Cabal as a detective rather than simply a necromancer. This is not to imply that he solves crime professionally. Indeed, he commits crimes with increasing frequency. However, the supernatural is eschewed in favor of the character’s development and to display just how sharp his analytic mind is . Specifically, we get a better glimpse into just how clever Cabal really is on matters not primarily dealing with the dead and their subsequent resurrection.
We also see the return of a character from the first novel, Ms. Leonie Barrow. While she has proven herself to be quite clever in her own right in the first book, Ms. Barrow returns with a vengeance in Johannes Cabal the Detective. Sharper, wiser, and a little more worldly than before, Barrow acts as a foil to Cabal’s character and provides us with some very clever banter between the two. The depths of the exchanges, as well as Barrow’s demonstration of aptitude for criminology, prove her to be a more than worthy “adversary” for Cabal.
Johannes Cabal the Detective is a great return for a character which I hope gets more recognition as time goes on. Part Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and part Lovecraft’s Herbert West, Cabal’s wit and demeanor are very entertaining. While it’s true this is more of a niche genre, the story is fantastic. You get spies, intrigue, swashbuckling, and airships! Airships. Fans of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer will enjoy seeing Cabal in another series of bizarre events, though I admit I was a little disappointed with the diminished supernatural presence in the story. While this will broaden the appeal somewhat, I would have appreciated a few more reanimations and nonchalant conversations with Old Scratch.
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