I absolutely loved the start of this book, and I was completely sold on it when I was 3% in and encountered this sentence, uttered by our heroine, Bettina Rothschild, about her husband Arjuna Rana: "He's also a talented artist, speaks four languages fluently, has a photographic memory, and performs like a raging stallion in the bedroom. I can't imagine that a snide cretin in a cheap blue suit with the body of a prepubescent orang-utan could really entice me to leave him."
The start of the book is all about introducing this unlikely couple. Bettina is the brains of the outfit: prim and proper in her immaculate attire and with her cat-head cane to aid her walking, since she has one injured foot on which she cannot walk very long, or at least not without pain. Arjuna is the muscle, young and handsome, though by no means stupid. Together they work for the Ministry of Justice, and they are called on to apprehend one Ranulf Kaiser, a fraudster who has escaped prison by means and on motives unknown.
The book is essentially that: one long chase to catch Kaiser, but it is a highly entertaining ride against the steampunk backdrop of an industrialised city, Eisenstadt, on the shores of a lake and in the shadow of the mysterious Inselmond, a great island which floats in the sky a mile above Eisenstadt and circles it once a year.
The prose is laced through with humour, and the relationship between Bettina and Arjuna is wonderful and endearing. The story unfolds at the right pace, and none of the revelations feel contrived or untimely. The ending was unexpected, yet appropriate to the story and the characters, and whilst there wasn't a huge amount of depth to it, I enjoyed the book from start to finish.
Light and entertaining, I heartily recommend it.