No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016/71: Widdershins -- Jordan L. Hawk

I lied all the time. My life had been nothing but a fable, told to keep society happy, or at least keep it from noticing me. I'd lied about my feelings for Leander, I'd hidden away any spark or sign of passion after coming to manhood, and now I pretended Griffin was merely a good friend. What did one more lie matter? [loc. 3284]

First in a series (eight books so far) featuring Percival Endicott Whyborne (reclusive, repressed scholar) and Griffin Flaherty (handsome, angst-ridden detective). Together, they fight Lovecraftian horrors.

Widdershins is set in the eponymous town, which was founded by Theron Blackbyrne after he fled Salem 'one step ahead of the witch hunters'. Now Blackbyrne's descendants are up to no good, and their secret cult has grown to embrace many of the town's most prominent figures -- including members of Whyborne's own family. Whyborne's ability to decrypt an ancient text, and to use the information he translates, is an exemplary geek-makes-good narrative: his growing regard for Griffin, and their initially prickly working (and extracurricular) relationship, brings to mind Holmes and Watson. Though Hawk does take things rather further than Conan Doyle did.

I was greatly taken with Christine, lady Egyptologist and Whyborne's one true friend, and with the Lovecraftian setting. However, I didn't engage with this novel as much as I'd hoped, and I wonder if that might be due to the first-person narrative. (Again, very Holmesian.) I don't have a problem with this in general, but I'm considering whether I find it offputting in romances ... Or perhaps it's because Whyborne doesn't like himself very much... But I shall persevere with the series, because the setting and the dialogue and the prose style work very well.

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