Nero’s Fiddle by A.W. Exley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fairly standard “whodunnit” within the steampunk mythology of this series. The titular Nero’s fiddle is the artefact weaponised for a singular agenda. The connections fall into place very rapidly once you know who the victims are to each other, but the personalities of the supporting characters help to offset the fairly obvious plot lines. I like the links to the real life mystery of spontaneous human combustion, but find the explanation due to a fantastical device always too convenient. I sometimes think that magical elements added to a story make the solutions to problems far too simple… why did someone spontaneously combust? Magic. See… too easy!
The story is an easy read, and keeps pace well. The simple story line means that you will likely read through the book quite quickly. Many threads remain unsolved in this series. I would have been interested to find out what happened to the dragons from the previous novel, and to have delved deeper into the back stories of the supporting characters, such as Loki. As I’ve mentioned in my reviews to the previous books in this series, the main characters Cara and Nate, are a bit too sickly sweet for my liking! Cara has very quickly forgotten the trauma of her previous life, and when it does get mentioned again, it seems superficial; and Nate, who was stern, sullen and a closed book when we first met him, is now just a standard bloke enamoured with his gorgeous wife (a bit cliche!) and his mysterious and criminal past is revealed to be quite minor and low-key.
But for a quick visit to an alternate London, with airships and pirates, it’s a diverting few hours read.
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