The latest in World Fantasy Award–winner Vandermeer’s Ambergris cycle (Shriek: An Afterword, 2008, etc.) pits a dogged detective against…just about everyone.
An upstart species known as the gray caps has emerged as the power in the once-renowned city of Ambergris, now a crumbling place of decay and despair. Blame the vengeful gray caps for that. As the Ambergrisian underclass, they eked out a subterranean existence, manifestly in thrall to human superiority. But six years ago, the Rising placed Ambergris totally in the gray caps’ tyrannical hands. Now Finch, a detective, finds himself reporting to a being who speaks to underlings in often impenetrable clicks and whistles, though no one in their bare-bones police station would risk disobeying these commands. The bizarre double murder of a gray cap and a human shakes up the status quo. Finch’s boss seems intensely interested in the crime. Does it have something to do with the mysterious Lady in Blue, elusive leader of a growing counterinsurgency? Soon other intensely interested parties appear with a multiplicity of arcane agendas, to all of which Finch somehow seems key and in all of which his best interests are clearly not paramount.
Only for the faithful; anyone else will find the plot opaque and largely incomprehensible.