Pieces of Eight (The Guardian Of Empire City) by Peter Hartog

5 Stars – Dystopian detective story with future tech, magic and paranormal(ish)

This is Peter Hartog’s second novel in the Guardian of Empire City series and takes place several month’s after the climactic end of book one, Bloodlines which I have read, reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed. In fact, it was my read of 2021.

I guess in musical terms, this is the tricky second album and I was excited to rip into book two and see what new mystery and case file lay in store for Tom ‘Doc’ Holliday and co and whether it could live up to the story delivered in book one.

Yes, is the short answer.

There was a little bit of recap referencing in the opening chapter or two which I didn’t need but once the formalities were over and the case started it grabbed from the off and didn’t relinquish its fast pace until the final page. There is no idling in this book.

I have to say, I was impressed by the narrative. The main characters are all unique and well established, the character dialogue flows seamlessly and each voice is so recognisably distinct. The plot was intricately structured and was a delight reading as its many layers unfolded. The action is full-on and steeped in jeopardy with a sense that no one, especially Doc was safe.

The setting too is expanded upon and I got a real feeling for this immense city and its surroundings the further in the story went. As I referenced in my review of book one, it is reminiscent of Megacity One/Bladerunner and who in their right mind wouldn’t love that imagery!

I like that all of the protagonists are flawed in one way or another yet somehow just seem to fit together to make a whole. A real odd-bunch that just seems to work. As well there are some new characters introduced which could potentially play a wider part in the next book. I guess it is a watch this space to find that out.

There is an underlying ‘bad guy/gal’ carried over from book one and a new villain of the peace revealed but I will say no more. I would say that some of the antagonists were stereotypical and not as deeply threatening as book one but conversely, the final scene shenanigans were if anything more fraught and dangerous….I will say no more since I do not want to give any spoilers.

The production is extremely polished for an Indie author – indeed, I looked at the front to check if it had been through a traditional publishing house it was that good. I did pick up a few grammar issues but I could count these on one hand and actually, is far less than many published authors that I have read. If you have read this far into my review and think this book sounds interesting, then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. Peter Hartog is fast becoming one of my favourite future-world genre authors of all time.

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