THE SKILL OF OUR HANDS by Steven Brust

THE SKILL OF OUR HANDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A group of secretive immortals are thrown into turmoil by the murder of one of their own in Brust and White's sequel to The Incrementalists (2013).

The Incrementalists possess mortal bodies but immortal minds—as long as they can find willing host bodies to keep inhabiting. Able to share their memories, they seek to make the world a better place, albeit in "incremental" fashion. In the first novel, one of their own committed suicide; this time, it's the murder of the oldest Incrementalist, Phil, that disrupts immortality-as-normal. Phil's fiancee, Ren, must investigate his killing with the help of a large cast: the handsome if bullheaded Oskar; meddling, haughty Irina; avuncular Jimmy; pragmatic doctor Kate, and others. Solving a murder should be easy when you can view the victim's memories—and easier still when he can be resurrected. But the Incrementalists can't agree on who Phil's new host should be...and solving his murder is complicated by conflicting agendas and old wounds dating back to before the Civil War. The investigation provides the loose thread of a plot on which the characters string flashbacks—and guilty ruminations on just how far is too far to go for their better world. With the book set against a timely backdrop of an Arizona torn apart by anti-immigration laws and sentiment, the Incrementalists seem set to clash with corrupt local police and nativist militias. Instead, salvation comes, not in cinematic violence but in moments of confessional soul-searching. Brust and White's bickering immortals are terribly human, granting vulnerability to the photogenically diverse cast.

The imaginative worldbuilding and magic system overshadow the plot, and the reader may need a flowchart to track the cast, but Brust and White offer a frequently poignant take on the question of whether power conveys authority.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8288-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2016




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