Any book which opens with the main protagonist swinging by his heels in Hell has got my attention from page one. This grabbed me and never let me go.
Det. Insp. Chen is the cop whose responsibilities include the underworld as it impinges upon his city – the franchise city of Singapore 3. He’s a snake agent, one of the people who can travel between earth and Hell, so when a murdered young woman’s soul fails to end up in the realm above where it was destined to go, Chen has to follow the clues to Hell and back uncovering corruption in the highest echelons. He’s teamed with his Hellish counterpart the Seneschal Zhu Irzh, demon vice cop. Starsky and Hutch they are not, but there’s an element of the buddy-cop story as each character gets the measure of the other. Chen also has to avoid his wife’s relatives who are understandably miffed as she’s a demon he snatched from Hell before the story begins with a guardian who is sometimes a badger and other times a teakettle.
This is the first of Liz William’s Detective Inspector Chen books and introduces us to the strange and wonderful world of Singapore 3 where ordinary mortals, if they know what they’re doing, can travel between earth, hell and heaven – and return again. The background is richly drawn. The interweaving of myth, legend and imagination combines flawlessly. Highly recommended.