Author: Tamora Pierce
False silver coins are showing up in town, and Beka’s own friends are getting in trouble over them. Then a riot ensues over the raising prices of bread. Beka, a first-year Dog that is once more partnerless, is sent with Goodwin to Port Caynn to dig deeper into the surge of counterfeits. But the local Dogs aren’t at all worried about the problem, and Beka’s managed to offend the ruling Rogue. Together with the scent hound Achoo, Beka starts digging deep enough to uncover some truly nasty secrets.
This is a tad long, but the tension manages to stay strong throughout. The various clues about the counterfeiting ring surface slowly, and Beka’s got to play the part of stupid visitor (a role that does not suit her at all). It’s interesting to see how local corruption in the Dogs (the police force) feeds the greater corruption in the city, and how Beka functions when friends and allies are few and far between. It’s also interesting to see all the various discussions around counterfeiting, and how it debases the currency, and how that ripples out to broader impacts. And of course, this is a strong cop story, with plenty of scuffles with Rats and an unflinching look at some of the uglier sides of the Dogs.
I wasn’t as keen on the romance. Beka’s lived a rough enough life that she should’ve realized she was being played, and it’s kind of annoying how willing she is to bed someone she’s known for about two days simply because she’s got a pregnancy charm (what about diseases? or better yet, the fact that he’s still technically a SUSPECT?). So it was hard to read the romantic sections without skimming because the only reason she falls for him is that he’s good-looking and persistent about flirting with her.
The other thing I wasn’t keen on is how much page time is devoted to glorifying Okha/”Amber” as a woman in a man’s body and how beautiful that is (and the homosexual relationship is also portrayed as good, although that one is more just there, whereas the prose specifically takes time out to highlight Okha and his particular deviancy). I do not believe “feelings” define gender, because this makes as much sense as me saying I’m really a purple six-legged pony from Jupiter because I know it in my heart. (Bonus: since there’s no evidence no one can prove you wrong, and you’re just branded a hater for not going along with it.)
Anyway, I do enjoy them for the cop stories, and for a look at Tortall from a different angle. Magic certainly comes into play, but for the most part this is hardboiled detective work (and in this instance, a couple of scent-hound tracking sprees). If the rest of it doesn’t bother you, then go ahead and read it. I rate this book Recommended.