Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds (Barnabas Tew #2), by Columbkill Noonan

Crooked Cat Books, September 2018

Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby, having completed their unwanted assignment in the Egyptian Land of the Dead, have been helpfully packed off to the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, to help Odin out with a  little problem. Loki's bowl, that is, the silver bowl that his wife, Sigyn, uses to catch the venom that a snake is dripping on the face of the bound Loki, has been stolen. Odin wants to know by who, and he wants the bowl back.

Since neither Barnabas nor Wilfred has ever studied Norse mythology they understand even less of what's going on in the Nine Worlds than they did in the Land of the Dead. Since everyone around them is treating all this knowledge as self-evident, it takes them a while to work out that catching the falling venom is essential to prevent, or at least delay, the start of Ragnarok, because with every drop that falls on Loki's face, he struggles mightily to break loose of his bonds. This causes earthquakes, and if he does it long enough, his bonds will eventually break. Then he heads off to seek revenge, and Ragnarok, the end of the world, starts.

They also, slowly, realize that nearly everyone who matters at all in Asgard has a either a motive to cause harm to Loki even if it will hasten Ragnarok, or to help him break free even if it will hasten Ragnarok, or just a reason to hasten Ragnarok, because loved ones who have died will return to life.

And as little as Barnabas and Wilfred understand the Nine Worlds, and less than Holmesian detectives though they may be, they quickly learn that the Viking belief in and resignation to Fate has resulted in a failure to ask even the most obvious questions of even the most obvious and convenient suspects.

At first, as with the first book in the series, I had a hard time getting into the story, and found Barnabas in particular a bit annoying. Yet I persisted, and I really wasn't very far in before I remembered what I'd come to like about the dogged, determined, and ultimately, loyal and kind, displaced Victorian detective.

While I know more about Norse mythology than Barnabas and Wilfred, I'm no expert, and can't say how faithful and accurate this is. I can only say that, once again, I got hooked on Barnabas and his determination to do what he's committed to do, and his exploration of at least this version of the Nine Worlds.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.