Sunder City used to be run on magic and the humans that lived there were very much second class citizens. When the magic disappeared humans rose to the top and those who had been magical were persecuted. Fetch Phillips is human but won’t work for humans. As a private detective he will only work for ex-magical people. He’s a man with an overwhelming sense of guilt for his part in the tragedy and he suffers, has few friends and drinks too much. In Luke Arnold’s book The Last Smile in Sunder City Fetch is on the trail of a missing person but he soon discovers that this case is bigger and more important than it first seems.
This book is written in a Raymond Chandleresque manner with Fetch as a lone soul, despised by many but always with a smart comment. He’s a loner and his guilt plays on him resulting in self-hatred and a bit of a victim mentality – as the book progresses we are told the story of his past and his role in the disappearance of magic and also about what that has lost him personally.
The idea of this book is clever but I actually found it a bit of a slog to read. I didn’t find it amusing at all although I think that the author intended that it should be. I thought that the Chandler style was wearing because it wasn’t good enough of an imitation and so Fetch appeared rude and boorish rather than witty. I also found that I couldn’t like Fetch much although I was glad when about two thirds of the way through the book he finally started being proactive rather than just reacting to what was going on around him.
I wish I’d liked this book more but, in the end, it was not entertaining enough for me to encourage me to read further novels in the series.