Friday, January 13, 2023

Short Book Reviews: A Woman Police Detective Across Dimensions

 Marked, by S. Andrew Swann (DAW)

Reminiscent of Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, this “portal to another world” fantasy begins as a police procedural with a twist. Detective Dana Rohan’s life is filled with secrets. One is the intricate, tattoo-like Mark across her back that has grown in complexity and extent since the time she was found as an orphaned child. The other is what the Mark does. By an act of will, she can travel across time and alternate worlds. She’s been using this ability to solve crimes, at the risk of attracting the suspicions of the police higher-ups, even the distrust of her partner when she almost gets caught hiding a revolver used in a crime in a parallel world when one exists in police custody in this reality. Her problems quickly fade to insignificance when a series of bizarre encounters, including near-fatal assaults by zombie-like, cannibal “Shadows,” propel her from her ordinary life into a multitude of different realities. From formless, roiling Chaos to a world in which Napoleon III rules the Western World, her only hope of survival is turning the tables on the culprit behind the assaults.

I’m a fan of stories that start in the everyday world, often with a character with a mysterious past, and end up in increasingly more fantastic settings. I mentioned Zelazny’s Amber series, also Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree, and let’s not forget all the magical-door stories like C. S. Lewis’s Narnia. This one has the added features of a woman detective who is more than capable of defending herself, a slow-simmer romance, and the usual quirks of alternate histories. It’s fast-paced and full of plot twists and drama. All in all, a quick but satisfying read.


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