Three months after the events of Steeplejack (2016), Anglet Sutonga investigates an elite social club to uncover the identity of a thief and traitor. But as she follows each clue, the Lani girl discovers that wealth, bigotry, and political power intersect to deplorable effect.
Hartley creates a world so analogous to our own it hardly seems like a fantasy. Bar-Selehm is buckling under the rise of a far-right white supremacist political party, a refugee crisis, and the dispossessed poor struggling with too few jobs and too little political power. The unexpected strength of this book is its nuanced examination of whiteness. Beyond the calls for racial purity are the white women claiming to fear for their safety in the presence of brown and black people and part-Lani–but-passing Willinghouse, Anglet’s complicated associate and a Member of Parliament, referring to refugees as “what” rather than “who.” Anglet has blossomed in this sequel, releasing her previously restrained sharp tongue and expanding her emotional range. Even as she learns to put on a neutral face to be a more effective spy, her empathy for those who are suffering and her relentless search for the truth are her most laudable attributes.
Readers who come for the tightly plotted mystery will stay for the heroine who does all she can to resist. (Mystery/fantasy. 14-adult)