Set in a distant post-apocalyptic future, The Jacq of Spades is a steampunk mystery, with the promise of zeppelin travel, different drug-lord families that control city quadrants, and 22-year-old Jacqueline Spadros, raised in a brothel in the slums, but chosen to be the wife of a drug-lord heir. Jacqui's secret life is as a private investigator, which her new family can never know about. Her latest case is a missing child, the younger brother of a boy she grew up with in the slums.
The book spends a bit of time world-building, which was a bit slow (I had read a prequel to this story, which is the leadoff novella in Death and Damages), so I knew much of the world already), but once it started propelling itself forward, it was hard to put the book down.
Jacqui is a rich, complex character who never completely forgets her roots, and her dealings with the other families—and her ability to sneak about successfully—lead to many edge-of-your-seat scenes. Her digging leads her to uncover other dark, sinister secrets of both other families and her own. And while many of the mysteries are unanswered—that's why this book is the first of a series—the central question of the book is resolved in what I think is a satisfying way. That's not always the case for book series, and I was happy to see the resolution.
Many of the characters are well-rounded too, from the husband and heir who Jacqui doesn't really love, to Jacqui's maid, to the twins from another quadrant who befriend Jacqui. Jacqui's father-in-law is a cruel, heartless man, but Loofbourrow shows some interesting sides to him that save him from being the mustache-twirling villain he could be.
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