Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle  - Mike Carey Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 3
boobs: 1
bombs: 1
bondage: 1
blasphemy: 4
Bechdel Test: fail
Deggan's Rule: fail

Another fantastic book from Mike Carey. I didn't react to this one as strongly as I did to The Devil You Know, but that's because I was prepared to read a noir whodunnit rather than a ghostbusters. It's not necessary to read the first book to enjoy this one, and for reasons I'll get to in a few paragraphs it may even help.

Again, the character of Felix resonates strongly with me and I'm beginning to feel that Felix and Takeshi Kovacs are cut from the same cloth. If you like your protagonists troubled, confused, selfish, arrogant, quick witted and too obstinate for their own good then Felix is your guy. Felix, however, is no superhero and unlike Takeshi, still has a (dinged and chipped) heart of gold underneath his cold demeanor.

I was hoping this book would have more development for the supporting cast we met in the first book, especially the succubus that Felix befriended in the first book. Unfortunately, while there are a number of strong female supporting characters who are each vividly unique and interesting, this book more than the first uses other characters to prop up Felix's story. It's narrated in the first person, so mechanically the story really is all about Felix, but I was hoping that we'd see Felix grow a little more and learn to reach out to other people easier rather than throw himself in harm's way in yet another vain attempt to absolve himself of his guilt.

The plot moves along at a good clip, but the mystery wasn't very mysterious. The plot involves a number of seemingly unrelated incidents that ultimately have the same root cause. I believe myself and every reviewer on GR saw the connection immediately, but we had to watch Felix grope around the seedy underside of undead London for another three hundred pages to put it all together. Frankly, I just don't understand how Felix wasn't able to put all the pieces together sooner. Doing so would have left more room to explore the race against deadlines and develop some of the new factions that are introduced.

The writing continues to be top-notch. As I'm sure my fellow readers know, there's nothing like reading a poorly written book to make you appreciate a well written book. The writing is solid without calling attention to itself and lets the characters speak in their own voice without sounding shrill or caricaturish. I appreciate Mr. Carey's dry sardonic humor, it reminds me of myself and I've made it a point to add some turns of phrase from Felix into my lexicon. London itself is a vital character in the story, and though I'm still not very familiar with the city I can feel the vibe and the tone of the different neighborhoods through the writing.

If you liked the first book, I definitely recommend this one with the caveat that I hope the series picks up in subsequent volumes and allows the characters to grow more. I'm really torn about how many stars to give; I want to give it four on it's own merits but I think it only deserves three in the context of the series because of the missed opportunity to develop the characters more.

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.