The fourth book in the Detective Inspector Chen series set in the mythical city of Singapore Three. I read this as soon as I got my hands on it!

Publication year: 2009
Page count: 346 plus a teaser from the Iron Khan
Format: print
Publisher: Night Shade Press

Singapore Three, Hell, and even Heaven have gone through some changes since the first book. And so has Detective Inspector Chen; he’s still married to Inari, who is a demon with her own badger familiar who changes into a tea kettle, but his partner and best friend, Zhu Irzh, is a demon and yet he’s on good terms with Heaven.

However, Zhu Irzh has disappeared and so has Inari’s familiar. Meanwhile, the Lord Lady Seijin is an otherworldly assassin who has been hired to take out the Heavenly Emperor himself. Also, Lara, a very popular Bollywood actress, has been extremely difficult lately. Her manager wants to send her back to Hell from where he summoned the literally devilishly good looking tigress demon. Chen has his hands full.

Like in the previous book, this one has several point-of-view characters; the assassin, the tigress demon’s manager, Inari, and Zhu Irzh among them. I was particularly delighted with the badger’s POV. He’s an Earth elemental who was bound to the service of a demonic house but he has grown to love his mistress and serves her loyally. He doesn’t have a name and he uses scent much more than sight. He and Zhu Irzh reach some sort of camaraderie which was nice. Inari plays a larger part than in the previous books and she gets to show her courage which was great.

The Lord Lady Seijin was another very interesting character. He/she has two gender selves to talk to each other in the character’s head. Williams was very careful not to use a gendered pronoun with Seijin. Seijin is the owner of the Shadow Pavilion, which is in an ethereal plain, and s/he collects the souls of the people s/he has killed. Seijin is motivated mostly by curiosity and challenge. S/he is very old and the challenge of killing the Celestial Emperor intrigues.

This time we see (briefly) the afterlives of other religions rather than just the Chinese Heaven and Hell. I liked them but I must confess that I don’t know much about them.

The plot moved along quickly with short chapters and quick POV changes. I really liked the humor in this book, especially around, or aimed at, Zhu Irzh.

I loved this book as much as I’ve loved the rest of the series. But please, don’t start with this one. Start with the Snake Agent, the first in the series.