Title: The Gangster
Series: Magic & Steam: Book Two
Author: C.S. Poe
Length: 242 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: Kudos and my compliments to author C.S. Poe for handing me my first book hangover of the new year, with a cliffhanger ending that belongs in the “Whoa, I Did Not See That One Coming” book of records.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 1881—Special Agent Gillian Hamilton, magic caster for the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, has recovered from injuries obtained while in Shallow Grave, Arizona. Now back in New York City, Gillian makes an arrest on New Year’s Eve that leads to information on a gangster, known only as Tick Tock, who’s perfected utilizing elemental magic ammunition. This report complicates Gillian’s holiday plans, specifically those with infamous outlaw, Gunner the Deadly, who promised they’d ring in 1882 together.
The two men stand on the cusp of a romance that needs to be explored intimately and privately. But when Gillian’s residence is broken into by a magical mechanical man who tries to murder him on behalf of Tick Tock, he and Gunner must immediately investigate the city’s ruthless street gangs before the illegal magic becomes a threat that cannot be contained.
This might be their most wild adventure yet, but criminal undergrounds can’t compare to the dangers of the heart. Gillian must balance his career in law enforcement with his love for a vigilante, or lose both entirely.
Review: C.S. Poe’s The Gangster is the full-length follow-up to the fantastic The Engineer, the novella that started it all for the Magic & Steam series. Poe did such an outstanding job of setting up this world in that book, accomplished it in relatively few pages, and did so in a brilliantly imaginative way, which she builds upon to striking degrees in this continuation. The appeal of the steampunk cityscape and all the gadgets and automations wouldn’t be half as delightful, however, if it weren’t for the men driving the story, Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam Special Agent Gillian Hamilton and Constantine Gunner—aka Gunner the Deadly, one of the most notorious outlaws there ever was.
Gunner and Hamilton have a New Year’s Eve rendezvous planned, but ringing in 1882 together becomes a bit complicated—as if it weren’t already knotty enough between the lawman and his outlaw—after a meeting with Gillian’s FBMS boss, Director Loren Moore, takes an unexpected turn, and Hamilton is late picking up Gunner at the station. But things go positively twisted then, when a criminal Gillian has recently apprehended turns up dead in his prison cell—a man who has connections to the newest threat in New York City, a man known only as Tick Tock.
Teaming up together to investigate a spate of magical and mechanical criminality puts a wrench in Gillian and Gunner’s romantic plans, which provides plenty of action and danger that not only showcases Poe’s imagination to the nth degree, but it also offers a proximity that means the tripwires and triggers of Gillian’s past become more difficult for him to hide from his highly perceptive outlaw. The emotional component to Gillian’s inner monologues hits the mark, compels a reaction at each revelation, and propels the story along. Poe teases all of this out to absolute perfection while laying the groundwork for an absorbing mystery that, quite literally, explodes at nearly every turn, further reveals the depths of Gillian’s immense powers, and resolves (though there’s still someone out there doing horrific things!) with a fiery flourish.
I can say with absolute certainty that if I’d read this book a mere few weeks ago, it would’ve made my Best of 2020 picks. C.S. Poe’s conception of this world is vivid and pitch-perfect for fans of steampunk, and the romance . . . that’s still a work in progress, but the parts and pieces are all in place for her to build something truly lovely.
Kudos and my compliments to the author for handing me my first book hangover of the new year, with a cliffhanger ending that belongs in the “Whoa, I Did Not See That One Coming” book of records.
You can buy The Gangster here:
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3 thoughts on “Review: The Gangster by C.S. Poe”
Great review! I just bought book 1 in audio based on your recommendation.
It took me a while to get around to getting The Engineer, but when I read it I have been waiting for this one, so glad it lives up to expectations!!
A favourite author
I’m so utterly impressed by the world building Carroll’s done in this -verse! It’s a lot of fun, and there’s so much more to learn about Gillian and Gunner, who I love :)