John Meaney creates an intriguing world for his new series, beginning with "Bone Song" ($6.99, Spectra).
It’s a world where bones have great power. The energy to keep the city of Tristopolis running is generated from them, and the bones of artists have a seductive power all their own. Great performers are disappearing all over the world, with the attacks often happening in front of ensorcelled audiences. The bodies then mysteriously disappear.
Tristopolis detective Donal Riordan has been charged with protecting a famous opera diva who is visiting the city and suspected to be the next target. When things go awry, Riordan finds himself thrown into a new role as part of a special task force filled with interesting characters assigned to take down the suspected conspiracy behind the disappearances.
In "Bone Song," Meaney melds science fiction, fantasy, horror and police procedural to produce a book that brings something new and interesting to the overloaded supernatural detective story field. While there’s not a real weakness in the book, the true star is the world itself, powered by the necroflux created from human remains and filled with machines operated by often-enslaved wraiths. At times, it seems a bit like horror told with a hard science fiction style. There is, of course, an undercurrent here that often runs through these kinds of books about equality and rights for all beings, but it takes a back seat to the primary story.
The world isn’t the only attraction, though. Meaney builds a cast of interesting characters that seems to avoid many of the cliches of the genre.
Overall, "Bone Song" is a promising start to the series which continues with "Black Blood," already out in hardcover from Spectra. It will be interesting to see how things develop and if Meaney can keep it as compelling as the first installment.