Today I am thrilled to be reviewing Pieces of Eight by Peter Hartog, which us out in the wild today! Pieces of Eight is the second book in The Guardian of Empire City series, and you can check out my review of the first book Bloodlines (HERE). The first book was so much fun to read, and I leapt at the chance to read an arc of Pieces of Eight and I was blown out of the water, it’s so good and I loved every moment.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
How do you stop a killer who’s already dead?
Some secrets never die. When the mutilated corpse of an ex-con is found in the bowels of an old church, haunting Biblical verses scrawled at the crime scene speak of divine retribution, and a killer hellbent on revenge. For Special Crimes detective Tom “Doc” Holliday doesn’t need his fickle clairvoyance to see that a murder like this is only the beginning.
With few leads and fewer suspects, Holliday and his quirky team of paranormal specialists embark upon an investigation that will lead them down a dark and twisted path, and test the bonds of family and friendship. From the frozen streets of Little Odessa to the diabolical wealth of Park Avenue, Holliday will need more than his Insight to hunt down an unstoppable killer.
But when Holliday suspects the killer might not be what it seems, he’ll have to unravel a twisted web of greed and lies to save an innocent soul, or lose his own, and watch his world die.
Welcome back to Empire City!
This is how you do a sequel.
Bloodlines was a delight to read, and Pieces of Eight has taken everything that I loved so much about the first book and turned the dial up to twelve! I’m glad I had set aside an afternoon for this one because there was no putting this book down once I’d started, and particularly towards the end I was absolutely glued to what was happening in the pages.
Firstly, I do have to talk about that fantastic cover! I loved the cover for Bloodlines, but the one for Pieces of Eight is just downright beautiful – I love the mood it sets (especially after reading the book), and the colours, and as with the first cover I feel it really captures the essence of the world that Peter Hartog has created with Empire City and I will be snagging a physical copy asap because I need that on my shelf (also I want to see them side by side).
I was grinning within seconds of starting this one because ‘Doc’ Holliday’s character voice is just so strong and unique, and I just love how he views the world around him and the craziness that he has found himself being surrounded by, and it felt like catching up with an old friend. I also appreciated the way he caught us up on what had happened previously, without being a direct recount or exposition dump, and it does so in Doc’s own inimitable style. I think Doc has stolen his way onto my list of favourite characters, just because he is always so uniquely himself, and I honestly don’t think this book or the series as a whole would be what it was without him.
Also, there were Kobolds.
To be honest, I was sold on this book within the first few pages and it only got better from there. Bloodlines had done a lot of the legwork in setting up the worldbuilding, with the wonderful blend of futuristic technology, old-world relics and fantastical elements (did I mention KOBOLDS?!). Pieces of Eight continues that delicate balancing act between the multiple genres that feed into this series, but continues to build on it, and with that foundation giving us an anchor it was wonderful to see the world of Empire City expand and to delve into its depths and underbelly. You can really feel the author’s passion for this world, and his knowledge of the ins and outs of what he’s created, and Empire City is so vividly brought to life that it almost feels like a character in and of itself, without ever stealing the limelight from the plot or the main characters.
The investigation/crime thriller aspect that was so beautifully handled in the first book, also felt as though it stepped up a level here. I was constantly kept on the edge of my seat through this one, and there were so many times that I’d thought I’d worked out something, only to be proven wrong. The investigative element was so well done, and the twists and turns were delicious and diabolical, and there was more than one revelation that had me sitting there mouth open for a few minutes before I had to dive in again to find out what would happen next and the ending in particular just stunned me.
As I’ve said above, revisiting Doc was an absolute joy, especially as it really felt as though he was finding his feet and coming into his own in Pieces of Eight, and that we were right there learning and growing alongside him. It was just as much a delight to spend time with Deacon and Leyla again, and I think after this one Deacon comes very close to rivalling my love for Doc and they play off one another so well.
Where Pieces of Eight really shone though was on the emotional impact. It was there in Bloodlines, but as with everything it felt as though Hartog has really found his stride and turned that dial up to max and then some, and there were some truly emotional moments in this book that hit hard and are wonderfully human and realistic, even amongst the fantastical elements and advanced technology. Friendship and family and trust play such an important role throughout this book, and it adds another level to another well-realised book.
It was an absolute delight returning to this world and these characters (and I’m still hearing Deacon as Brummie), and I had so much fun with this book – with more than one emotional roundhouse kick and jaw-dropping moments. This is rapidly becoming one of my favourite series, and I just love the blend of science fantasy with a crime thriller, and all the little details that Hartog has packed into this world – and I just want to spend more time with Doc. I can’t recommend this book and series highly enough, and I will eagerly be waiting to see what else Empire City has in store for us.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.