Luke Arnold,

Last Smile in Sunder City

Review posted to NetGalley, March 16, 2020

Speculative fiction

In a world that's lost its magic, a former soldier turned PI solves cases for the fantasy creatures whose lives he ruined in an imaginative debut fantasy by Black Sails actor Luke Arnold.

This quirky homage to hard-boiled detective fiction works well as dark urban fantasy. Reminiscent of the Dresden Files but set in a world in which magic has been destroyed, the Fetch Phillips Archives promises to be a riveting series.


Universally reviled, Phillips provides a cautionary tale of a young man whose idealism has been corrupted to foul ends. Like many individuals in the real world, he was used and discarded by both sides in a war not of his own making.


That deeper meaning is enlivened through Arnold’s authorial voice, which offers startling imagery and fascinating characters on every page. The tortured hero can never undo the horror he has wrought on the Satyrs and Gnomes, Elves and Centaurs, Vampires and Werewolves and other supernaturals who continue to linger in abject misery in Sunder City, but he can try to do good as his penance. The plot takes some surprising turns as Phillips learns who he can and cannot trust.


I hope this book will be followed by several more in the Fetch Phillips Archives.