Steeplejack (Steeplejack #1) by A.J. Hartley

It took me three tries, but I finally found enough time to get past the first five percent of the book to dive into this excellently rendered fantasy world. Which isn’t to say that the first five percent was bad, just that it’s awfully dense with chimney-climbing stuff, and given my heavy reading load, it was a challenge to carve out enough time to really get into this novel. It probably helped that I read elsewhere that the setting is based on South Africa, which helped a lot, as before then my brain had been stubbornly trying to pattern the city of Bar-Selehm on parts further north and constantly running into incongruities that really took me out of my reading.

Anyway! Steeplejack is essentially a murder mystery with conspiracy elements, investigated by our heroine, Anglet Sutonga, an impoverished but extremely talented steeplejack (a.k.a building climber, primarily for the purpose of cleaning chimneys but also for repairing masonry) who is recruited by a politician to look into the murder of her new apprentice. Anglet is surprised that someone besides herself cares, but when Berrit’s murder looks like it could be linked to the disappearance of a valuable gem, she quickly realizes that her new boss, Willinghouse, was correct to worry that the seemingly small death is part of a much vaster plot that could destabilize the city’s fragile peace.

I really enjoyed so much of the plotting of this novel, from murder mystery to race relations to Ang’s struggles not only to solve the crime/foil the plot but also her family relations and interior life. I loved how she recruited Dahria to help, tho am less enamored of her attraction to Josiah. I’m #TeamMnenga all the way. I also didn’t really understand the collective fascination with Vestris. Am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, tho have to persuade my libraries to pick them up first. Wish me luck!

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