In Darkwalker, rookie author E.L Tettensor introduces us to Inspector Nicolas Lenoir and his urban fantasy world set in the Victorian era. The book is atmospheric and the reader might expect Jack the Ripper to make an appearance. This debut novel had some hits and some misses but succeeds in being more positive than negative.
Nicolas Lenoir is a legendary inspector of the Metropolitan Police force. Unfortunately he is not feeling quite so legendary these days. Bad choices and compromise have left him lazy and questioning his future. When a series of kidnappings and grave robberies bear similar signatures and point to a “gypsy” community, Lenoir is content to ignore the situation until it hits him close to home. Having a personal stake in the investigation, Lenior dusts off his skills and dives into the investigation. Little does he know that he will be forced to deal with a darkness from his past and face his own mortality while fighting for another’s future.
Who Doesn’t Love a Tortured Genius
I found Lenoir to be an interesting character. He shows flashes of genius while preferring inaction and a greased palm to hard police work. We are given the impression that his reticence goes beyond simple laziness. The author leaves a few hints pointing to a traumatic experience in his recent past. While Lenoir’s past could have been better developed, I found him to be an interesting character nonetheless. The author does a passable job of presenting a troubled character whose guilt and underlying good nature manages to prevail in the midst of the darkness.
The novel is well written with clean prose. The story doesn’t move at a quick pace as it is, in part, a story of the internal struggles of the inspector. The supernatural is present but not pervasive. There are whispers of magic and the appearance of a supernatural being. The world of the mythical is clouded with disbelief and mystery. Don’t expect Harry Dresden or even Peter Grant. I had the sense that the author wanted a “Sherlockian” main character who is forced to deal with mystical and unknown.
Did I Miss Something?
While it may seem to be contradictory, the novel felt like both a stand alone novel and the second book in a series. In the first third of the book I consistently had the feeling I had missed some information about the characters and the world. As a result, it took too long to feel integrated into the story. While I still enjoyed the story, I can understand how some readers might abandon the story in the early going. The story also lacked the sense that this was part of a series. While the main character was developed, his police agency, friends and coworkers were simply background noise. If this is to be a series that I will continue to read over the long term, I want to see development outside of Lenoir.
Overall, Darkwalker is a good start to a promising new series. Despite some warts, the story presents a main character who is beset by his own darkness (“Le Noir” – kinda obvious isn’t it) while possessing positive, albeit restrained goodness. If the author continues her solid writing and improves her world building, this could be a successful and interesting series for years to come.
It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.
Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest
Sex – 1.5
There is some insinuation that a character is running a business in which some immoral activity is occurring. This is not a major point in the story and there is minimal space devoted to it. There is a the sense of romantic interested but nothing overtly sexual. Sexual content appropriate for all ages.
Language – 2
Very little language stood out. I do not recall any usage of the f-word and some minor usage of mild obscenities. I would say the language is appropriate for all ages.
Violence – 3
The story is not especially violent. There are several scene in which characters are beaten in the streets. There is some fantasy violence with mild (but non-gory) horror elements. Part of the plot include young boys being kidnapped. It is understood that they are being harmed and hurt. Several scene include boys screaming in pain and terror but the method is not disclosed. There is a gun fight and some other minor violence.