The second of Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes” steampunk/mystery/adventures (following The Affinity Bridge) struck me as stronger overall than its predecessor, with a bit more depth of character. I found the tone a little inconsistent — there are a few moments that veer into excessively broad parody of pulp/adventure conventions and require a greater level of suspension of disbelief than most of the book. And as in the first novel, there are some rough bits of prose that could have been smoothed by a more assertive editorial hand. I was also thrown by an action sequence in which “two hundred yards” was substituted for what I think should have been “two hundred feet,” a distance, anyway, at which two eyes could be distinguished in a face. If Mann were a little defter I might think he was deliberately emulating some of the foibles of writers like Burroughs, Haggard, and Rohmer, but I suspect it’s unconscious mimicry. Either way he falls short of the prose of Doyle or Hammett.
needs more demons? for my taste, yes, a bit.