When an author enjoys success with one novel, he or she is tempted to write another—the same, only different. Perhaps he wants to explore more of the world he has created; perhaps she has gained new insight into her leading character(s); perhaps there are bills to pay. The trick, from the readers point of view, is whether the author recreates the magic of the first story without simply duplicating the formula. In Thieves’ Quarry Jackson manages the first while edging perilously close to the second.
The setting is again colonial Boston, a few years after the events of Thieftaker. Ethan Kaille is again challenged to solve a crime he wouldn’t normally investigate. He works with, against and across the same characters as the first book. Yes, the stakes are higher across the board, but Ethan is the same slightly-over-the-hill conjurer and private investigator (before there were such) and always seems one step behind his competitors and adversaries. Once again the villain introduced earlier in the novel, whom neither the reader nor Ethan initially suspects of the dastardly deed.
But the magic of these tales in the telling. Jackson melds very real history into his tale of colonial urban fantasy. In fact, one of the few changes in the formula is Kaille’s changing political opinions and why. He is not swayed by the arguments of either side so much by his own feelings of violation when his city finds itself occupied by military forces. Subtly and convincingly done.
I liked it, but not quite as much.