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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 11/2015
  • 978-1-944223-02-1 B017X29XUU
  • 243 pages
  • $2.99
Paperback Details
  • 11/2015
  • 978-1-944223-00-7 B017X29XUU
  • 242 pages
  • $9.99
The Jacq of Spades

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

The once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs. Jacqueline Spadros has a dream life: a wealthy husband, a powerful family. But her life is not what it seems. Kidnapped from her mother's brothel and forced to marry, the murder of her best friend Air ten years before haunts her nightmares. She finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law. Air's little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.
Plot/Idea: 5 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 5 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 5.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Strong world-building drives this tale of organized crime families, differentiated by the suits of a card deck: Spadros, Diamond, Hart, and Clubb. To slip out of the stringent social order, Jacqueline Spadros spends time with her dressmaker, supposedly having gowns created -- but in reality she slips into other disguises to move freely and solve crimes, such as the disappearance of a young boy named David Bryce. David’s disappearance is connected to a much wider web of intrigue, reaching into Jacqueline’s past. World-building, setting, and touches of steampunk help a sometimes convoluted plot and a few dangling story lines that might be developed in upcoming volumes of the series. An intriguing start and interesting premise.

Date Submitted: June 13, 2016

Reviews
Allie Sumner

Jacqui Spadros is a very complex character. At every turn in her life there have been extreme circumstances. I enjoyed getting to know her. She is a very likable character. She doesn’t seek out bad situations but endures them for a greater purpose. She is clever and strong but caring and emotional.

The relationship between Jacqui and Tony was an interesting element of this story. It’s clear that Tony loves her but for the better part of the story it seems like he dismisses her as a real partner. I enjoyed how towards this end of the book he sees her as more of an equal.

All of the characters in this book are very well written. I felt like I had a good sense of who everyone was as individuals and the parts they played in the bigger story. I look forward to getting to know each of them (those still alive) better as the series progresses.

I do love a series.

The world building was great. At first I was a little disappointed and felt like I didn’t get enough information but towards the end of the story the reader gets more information and I was happy. The premise here is really interesting and pretty realistic. I could easily see this as a possible reality. I loved how the book ended. No real loose ends.

All in all I loved the book. Definite 5 star!

Gabby's Honest Book Reviews

I was extremely impressed by this book for many different reasons. This was the first steampunk book that I've read that I actually really loved. This book had me in a trance the entire time, I didn't want to put the book down and when I did have to put it down I couldn't stop thinking about. The characters in this book are complexed and you couldn't help but fall in the with them. Whether it was loving them to love them or you loved to hate them either way they captivated you and keep you that way all the way to the end. Excellence from start to finish!

Lydia Johnson

I got this book free in exchange for an honest review. Right out of the gate, I enjoyed being kept in suspense and anxious to learn how the twists and turns all came together! The detailed descriptions pulled me into the story and kept me there throughout the book.I will definitely want to read the next in the series!

Margaret Fisk

Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

The Jacq of Spades offers a rich, complex culture with a mix of post-apocalyptic and noir themes. From the beginning, the reader is thrust into the layers of existence Jacqui maintains between her public position as wife to the heir of the Spadros family, one of the leading families on their island, and her private work as a detective.

The story is told in first person and builds from two ends at the same time. Jacqui’s memories add in pieces of information to show the tangled line she walks as her past comes to confront her present when she’s called upon to investigate the kidnapping of her best friend’s younger brother. Not her modern, good-side-of-town best friend, but the street rat companion of her youth in the Pot, what passes for a slum in the domed city of Bridges.

I found the characters intriguing and the environments full of lovely details. That Jacqui lives on the edge, unsure of whom she can trust and knowing the very actions she undertakes to win possible security could condemn her is very clear. While not heavily steampunk in nature, the influence of the Victorian aesthetic is noticeable, and that each family has an inventor, somewhat of a mad scientist, is revealed right up front. However, that aspect of the world is not the main focus in this, the beginning of a larger tale.

I’ve mentioned before how I tend not to read mysteries. This book reminds me of why. While it’s stated up front that this is part one, between the main character’s ignorance and the first person narrative, the layering of clues and evidence sometimes felt more given than discovered to me. She definitely breaks the rules of her society and goes into situations a woman of her now stature has no business being in, which offers up some solid tension in the story. Ultimately, though, I didn’t feel much was resolved, and the one bit of answer Jacqui does manage comes without the detail to make it feel real.

I have a theory about the Red Dog Conspiracy and the mystery behind all this, but lack the evidence to prove or disprove it. My guess is the mystery will continue in the next book, and yes, the specific case technically does conclude, so others might have no issue, but as a reader I was left dissatisfied by this aspect.

I’m not much for pomp over substance as a reader, and clearly, the state of the mystery left me frustrated, but I enjoyed my time in Bridges and with Jacqui. There are several story threads that draw me on to the next book in the series because of the curiosity they’ve provoked, and the question of where Jacqui can find true allies is a major part of that.

For rich pageantry and a complex culture navigated by a character who feels she’s balanced on the edge between the slums of the Pot and the extravagance of the families, The Jacq of Spades is a hands-down success. I felt folded into their culture from the start, and it definitely pushes the noir buttons well.

The bridge (if you’ll allow me a moment of humor) to the next book promises a deeper look into the steampunk elements and warps this world from stagnant stability in a time of crisis to a desperate need for change. There’s a lot that intrigues in the first novel, and I suspect the next will have that and more.

I am both picky and demanding where mystery comes into play. That the mystery/detective elements did not live up to my standards, therefore, may not reflect the experience of other readers. The world building and characters, however, delighted me and while I might not have picked up the book knowing what I know now, I would have missed out on a fascinating culture that touches on the status of women and social differences through the eyes of someone both within and standing as an outsider to this world.

While Jacqui’s aims might not be what the Spadros family had hoped, she’s the perfect foil for the brutal man who runs the family. She has much to learn about the nature of her relationship with her husband through the course of the book as well, things that will both surprise her and cause Jacqui to rethink some of her assumptions. There is much good to counterbalance my issues, and while I would have expected a solid conclusion to the first part of the mystery, it is the beginning of a series and therefore the answer I seek is still to come. I do not regret opening the pages of this book one bit.

P.S. I was given this book by the author in return for an honest review.

SciFi and Scary

Set in a neo-Victorian city, The Jacq of Spades follows a strong-willed, intelligent female detective on her first major case as she searches for a missing boy. Along the way she has to find out exactly who the Red Dogs are, play nice-nice with the father-in-law who loves to hurt her, and stay away from the man who blames her for the death of someone close to him.

…all while being married to one of the city’s biggest drug-lords.

Easy, right?

In The Jacq of Spades Patricia Loofbourrow manages to spin a tale that keeps you guessing right up until the very end. There was always just enough uncertainty about clues to keep you slightly off-balance and make you doubt your conclusions. Add in the fact that the main character is an intelligent, strong woman who could drink more than a few men under the table, and you have a story that is almost irresistible.

Now, this novel is technically Steampunk, but its not heavily mentioned. There aren't a lot of cool gadgets mentioned, but there's talk of Inventors and the mechanisms that make the city work. I won't go into too much detail, just felt it was best to let the readers know that this wasn't a heavily fantastical story. This lack of obvious 'punkery does nothing bad to the story, though. Its mentioned at the appropriate moments, but you don't spend your time ooh'ing and aah'ing over gizmos because you're completely wrapped up in the mystery that's unfolding.

The Jacq of Spades hooked me immediately, almost against my will, and pushed me through a story that both captivated and puzzled me. I don't even have any major critiques worth mentioning in this review. That should tell you something.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 11/2015
  • 978-1-944223-02-1 B017X29XUU
  • 243 pages
  • $2.99
Paperback Details
  • 11/2015
  • 978-1-944223-00-7 B017X29XUU
  • 242 pages
  • $9.99

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