Friday, July 18, 2014

Cold Copper by Devon Monk

 When Cedar, Mae, Wil, Miss Dupuis and the Madder brothers arrive in Des Moines in the middle of a blizzard, they find themselves bound by an old promise the brothers made to the grandfather of a priest in that town, and must divert from their purpose of hunting down the Holder to deliver a favor owed. I wonder, however, nearly immediately if Monk is repeating a plot gimmick here from the first book, as it  turns out that chasing down the children who went missing "after the star fell from the sky" is part and parcel of their quest to find the pieces of the ancient weapon, which wreak death and destruction wherever they land. Or, could it be that the nature of the Holder causes these sort of events, using weak young children to power its mischief? The jury is still out on that one.

Rose and Captain Hinks remain in Kansas, and their little bit of romantic paradise is rapidly put through the wringer when she catches the man she loves frequenting the local bordello. I suspect that all is not as it appears here, either, since Hinks is actually a U.S. Marshall, and it is likely that he is playing a role in pursuit of the president's investigation, and simply hasn't let her know, having been single far too long. Rose makes the acquaintance of a very charming fellow, Thomas Wicks, who lures her away to, of all places, a library, and may be able to give Hinks a run for his money in Rose's affections.

Oops, I was wrong about the number of books in this series. Near the end, when Cedar recovers another piece of the Holder, and says he has six left to find, the Madder brothers tell him that they have already found another shard.

We get a few more hints about the Madder brothers, and a new insight into orphan Rose's nature, and Monk plays some fun games with the literality of a binding promise, and see Cedar and Wil's curse lifted from them and born by another for a time (I could have said "by a spell for a spell", but that was just a bit too folksy, eh?).

Another plot device that seems to repeat here is that the chief antagonist in the novel is another powerful man who is bringing modernity to Des Moines, in the form of universal telegraph lines of "cold copper" which will join them with the entire nation, perhaps the world, and who is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how evil, to accomplish his goals and to gain power for himself, Mayor Vosbrough. Perhaps there's a moral to the story arc of power corrupting, and technology enabling power to  grow more rapidly than is "natural".

Nearly every chapter in this multi-threaded tale ends with a minor cliffhanger, leaving us with the desire to get back to that part of the story quickly, yet we are returned to the solution of an earlier dilemma from another plot thread. Monk is definitely at or near the top of her game these days. Hope she can maintain it for a good long time.

No comments: