Samhain Publishing, $6.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-569-2
Whoa, The Broken Bell is long. This book clocks in 466 pages, so make sure you have some time set aside to read this book. I say this because the plot has some twists and turns that are best appreciated when this book is read in a single sitting. Otherwise, you’d spend some time trying to recall what you have read before you had to put the book down to go shampoo your hair or something. Also, this book is part of the author’s The Markhat Files series, and I don’t recommend that you try to read this if you are new to the series. There is a pretty considerable number of secondary characters with existing relationships and plot tie-ins from previous books, so things can get rocky if you are reading this story without any prior knowledge of the characters or setting.
In this story, our hero Markhat, a finder who, as you may be able to guess, is good at finding things. In this story, his girlfriend Darla needs his help: her friend Tamar’s fiancé is missing. What could have been a simple case of star-crossed lovers or guy with cold feet turns out to be something far more sinister as things from clan feuds to potential weapons of mass destruction come into the picture. If Markhat had been lucky before, this time he may need to be really lucky.
The Broken Bell is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from the author: dry humor, deceptively simple cases that turn out to be something far more messy, and an interesting cast of characters with amusing quirks and eccentricities. Reading this book is, therefore, akin to having another nice dish at the lovely restaurant downtown. The thing is, I am starting to feel that maybe the author should have rock the boat a little. Markhat is still that guy who reacts to situations more often than not – I feel that I should know a bit more about him by now. And there is also a comfortable familiarity to the proceeding that is, well, no matter how much I enjoy the whole thing, it has become rather familiar.
What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t really have an issue with this story, but a part of me is starting to wish that the story will… I don’t know, take me somewhere that is just as entertaining, but a little bit different. I know, I’m such a fussy curmudgeon, but after so many trips with Markhat and friends, it will be nice to shake things up a little.