Review: Clementine

Review: ClementineClementine by Cherie Priest
Series: The Clockwork Century #2
Published by Subterranean Press on May 31, 2010
Genres: Alternate History, Historical, Horror, Steampunk
Pages: 201
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Maria Isabella Boyd’s success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty…she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials—essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.

Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who’s been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.

And now it’s Maria’s job to go get him.

He’s dangerous quarry and she’s a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice.

And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.

First of all, I have to mention how difficult it was to figure out what was up with this book. I checked my book sites when I was starting to read Dreadnought and they all said it was book three in the series. But where’s book two?, I wondered. I checked my local library (nope), I checked Barnes and Nobles’ site (uh uh) and I checked Amazon (yes, but only if I want to pay fifty bucks for a two hundred page book. A little more research turned up the fact that for some reason Tor did not want to release the second book, so it went somewhere else, thus the lack of availability and the expensiveness. At any rate, since I cannot stand to read series out of order, I purchased the Kindle copy for $2.99, which seems to be the only realistic way to read this book. Crazy!

The story was, as mentioned before, fairly brief. It should not have been in any other way. As it is, it sets and maintains a good pace. It fills a bit of a gap from the first book. It’s nice to see an author following a dangling plot thread, rather than leaving you wondering why his ship got stolen in book one other than to give a bunch of airmen a reason to be on the scene in Seattle. Much like in the first book, the characters still lack a bit of depth, but they are slightly improved.

The best thing about Cherie Priest’s books though are her kickass women. Maria Boyd, in my opinion, puts the ladies of Seattle to shame, because she is smart, strong and willing to do whatever she has to in order to get her way. Action and gunfights abound and Maria is often right in the middle of them.

Fun bit of wordplay:

“‘That’s big of you,’ Maria said dryly.
‘I’m glad you approve,’ he responded with equal lack of humidity.”
Oh, that’s great. Lack of humidity! It’s such a terrible joke (which is why I love it)!

A fun second book for the series, quick and easy, like sorbet or crackers to cleanse the palette after a course in a meal or wine tasting.

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