Keith's Reviews > Snake Agent

Snake Agent by Liz Williams
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's review
Mar 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, crime-thriller, fiction, science-fiction, ebooks

This is a fairly standard police procedural. The protagonist is a detective with special gifts that evoke fear and avoidance from his colleagues, he does have a powerful protector, he pursues leads to people and places his superiors do not sanction and unsurprisingly he teams up with an oddball sidekick to solve a gruesome series of murders that lead into the highest corridors of power. Oh, and he's having troubles with his wife.

What enlivens Snake Agent to a very high plane is that Detective Inspector Chen's investigation centers on the murders of young virgins who are being killed for their souls; that his protector is the goddess of compassion, Kuan Yi, that the crime's origins originate from Hell, that his sidekick is a demon, that he must journey into Hell to solve the murders, that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, and, oh yes, his wife is a demon whom he spirited out of Hell.

Liz Williams uses Chinese mythology in a very unique way. The existence of Heaven and Hell is a given and Chen is a detective whose main job is tracking down demons - making his martial relationship even more challenging. He has a special permit to enter Hell and knows his way around the infernal realm. Williams adds the police procedural to this world and makes it work. The series is a mashup of cop story, fantasy story, and even sci-fi as it's set in "Singapore 3" in some near-future time. The political and bureaucratic structure of Hell is particularly well-described - malevolent and incompetent at the same time.

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