14th August, 2011

The Straight Razor Cure

Daniel Polansky | Hodder & Stoughton

review By Bernice Watson

First of all, let me just say that I approached this novel with fairly mixed feelings. It’s been quite some time since I last read a fantasy story, meaning magic and swords and what-have-you, and I wasn’t entirely certain I wanted to go back to the genre. Nevertheless, the cover caught my eye and I decided to jump right in despite my reservations. It was a decision I would have absolutely no cause to regret.

Author Daniel Polansky’s lifelong love of high fantasy and crime fiction shines through to great effect in The Straight Razor Cure and the absolute best element of this book, in my humble opinion, is the language he uses. It’s absolutely fantastic. Clearly Polansky not only has an impressive vocabulary but he is also highly skilled at using it. If I were to sum up The Straight Razor Cure in one sentence I would say it’s a shining example of hard-boiled pulp crime fiction wrapped in high fantasy. Not a combination of genres one might immediately think to bring together but a wonderfully successful mix here.

The story goes something like this: when a local child’s body is dumped in Low Town, ex-Agent of the Crown and current drug dealer Warden begins an investigation. Drawing on all his past investigative skills and using his underworld contacts he begins to piece together the mystery of the murder. Things get worse when another corpse appears and it becomes clear that Low Town has itself a serial killer. To make matters even more dire there’s magic involved, dark magic.  Racing against time to prevent the killer taking more victims, Warden must find out who is targeting Low Town’s children and what evil magic they are working.

It was somewhere around page three hundred that this book really grabbed me. Now don’t’ get me wrong, I’d been thoroughly enjoying reading it up until that point, but it was at this juncture that I realised that all was not as it seemed. Like any good murder mystery I had a theory about who was the killer and I tore through the remaining pages to find out if I was right. Actually, I was so excited that I almost skipped right to the back but that would be cheating so I resisted. Barely.

I would highly recommend The Straight Razor Cure to anyone who enjoys crime thrillers or high fantasy and I would particularly recommend it to anyone who likes both. It’s a well-constructed, well-executed novel with good pacing and a brilliant turn of phrase. A highly enjoyable read.

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