I feel as if Dan or Lee, or both, wrote to the background of AC/DC’s If you want Blood, You’ve got it. Because blood is what links together the best of the worst events in this New Zealand futuristic gripper. Matiu – a “sidekick” to his sister Pandora, is haunted by a spirit being of whom, after his years of therapy, he thought he had gained control. Until he touched a bowl.
A simple bowl, but it draws blackness into him, and he sticks to Pandora’s side throughout her work – unofficially – on a police murder case.
Which evolves into a multiple crime. Penny (Pandora) finds herself in situations a simple lab technician should not need to be in; but she too is gripped by the need for resolution – and by worry over Matiu’s changed state.
Rabarts and Murray have solid research behind the story, set in the 2020s, a future in which is revealed a most plausible system of agricultural production and city life. All the more awful is the juxtaposition of the past spiritual elements against daily life, which chill your bones. You’ll find yourself underlining, highlighting, re-reading…just because you want to.
Here’s one of many passages I loved…underlining mine…
Penny can’t understand why her parents insist on treating her like a twelve year-old. She’d called for a driver, not a damned babysitter. The last thing she needs is Matiu tagging along like a piece of soggy toilet paper stuck to her shoe. She clamps her lips shut and glances back. And just look at him: head down, shoulders slumped, hands stuffed in the pockets of his leather jacket. He’s the one behaving like a sulky teen. Why does he have to go talking to himself when they’re out in public, anyway? Mumbling under his breath to his imaginary friend… She steps through the doorway, noting its splintered frame, and is confronted by a human wookie. Two metres plus, with oversized hands, and long overdue for a haircut.
“Who the fuck are you?” it bellows.
Penny jumps, startled. “I was called…”
Get a grip, Penny. You’re not here to audition for Miss Muffet. You have a right to be here…
“You the lab girl? The one that Noah Cordell recommended? Pandora somebody? Cordell swore you were reliable; I expected you half an hour ago.”
Penny tries not to bristle at the slight. After all, this is work. And apart from a few tests—some simple DNA analyses to resolve a private paternity suit and routine monitoring of the blooms stinking up the city’s beaches—there hasn’t been much cause to turn on the fumehood since she left LysisCo. She squares her shoulders, extends her hand.
Suck it up, girl.
The tone is light, especially that first paragraph I’ve dropped in here. Imagery via words – as underlined – is the strength of their writing. Maybe I could have picked something more thrilling…but not all would be able to not squirm.
Note: expect a distance interview to be posted soon.
Māori language (phrases or words) are used, and a glossary of translations aids the non-kiwi reader.
Hounds of the Underworld © 2017 by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray
Publisher of Bowie, MD
First Edition; Printed in the United States of America
Cover Image: Daniele Serra; Book Design: Jennifer Barnes
More about the Hounds of the Underworld:
On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with seventeen murder cases on the go, the surly inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu, something other than the lack of a body in the congealing pool of blood in the locked room or that odd little bowl.
Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.
Hounds of the Underworld blends mystery, near-future noir and horror. Set in New Zealand it’s the product of a collaboration by two Kiwi authors, one with Chinese heritage and the other Māori. This debut book in The Path of Ra series offers compelling new voices and an exotic perspective on the detective drama.