Genre: Victorian/ Steampunk/ Detective Thriller (I think?)
Synopsis: Kidnapping. Murder. Betrayal. Would you put your life at risk for a child you barely know? In a far future US, the once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is now split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs. 22 year old Jacqueline Spadros was kidnapped from her mother's brothel and sold to the Spadros syndicate ten years ago. The murder of her best friend Air as he tried to save her from them haunts her nightmares. Now unwillingly married to one of the city's biggest drug lords, she finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law. Air's little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him. Dark, gritty, multi-layered Victorian-inspired detective neo-noir that keeps the reader guessing to the very end.
My Take: I love Victorian detectives like Sherlock Holmes! Jacqui is no Sherlock Holmes, but she is a delight, and the world that the author has created is as much a character as Jacqui. I love the creative quirks, like the fact that the four ruling families of Bridges are The Spadros, The Diamonds, The Clubbs, and the Harts. The way that each family has a unique look running about them. It is subtle and takes a moment to realize what the author is doing.
Following Jacqui through the present case, which pulls on much of her past, and sets up greater events to come, is a breath-taking chase through the brilliantly blended world that the author created. I have to be honest, I don't think I have actually read steam punk before, but I have watched Steam punk anime, and have wanted to read steam punk books. The author ticks several boxes of what I understand to be steam punk, but it is not super technical (what left me afraid of reading steam punk for so long!) I am eager to read the next books in The Red Dog Conspiracy!
The world feels very much like the dark underbelly of Victorian fashion and style, with a gritty mafioso vibe. It feels like Peeky Blinders meets Metropolis (minus the robots!)