Even Though I Knew The End by C.L. Polk (book review).

The advent of modern technology and, in particular, mobile phones, makes writing crime stories very much more difficult with the ability to track the criminals in ways that weren’t possible in the past. It is not surprising then that writers may set their stories in the past when it is more difficult to track down the felon and gives the detective the opportunity to show off their intelligence.

C.L. Polk’s novella, ‘Even Though I Knew the End’, is set in an alternative 1940s Chicago. This is a place where there are mostly male magicians, demons, angels and probably other supernatural creatures. The focus is on Helen Brandt, a warlock and private investigator. Ten years previously, she did a deal with a demon to return her brother to life in exchange for her soul. Her grace period is almost up but when she is offered a job to do an augury, to look into the future, she takes it as it will give her enough money to spend one last weekend with her lover, Edith. What seems like a simple job turns out to be far more complicated.

Stalking the city is an entity known as the White City Vampire. A fresh soul of the newly dead should be able to identify their killer before moving on to the next stage of existence. As Helen attempts the augury near the latest corpse, she finds no soul. There are however, a lot of strange glyphs painted around it with the victim’s blood. She takes pictures of them, hoping for a clue. She discovers that the victim had sold their soul and the grace time was almost up.

This wasn’t the only one. With only a few days before her own soul is claimed, Helen knows she could be the next target. She has to work out why these souls are being stolen. The demons are not happy at losing the price of their deals and she is offered a deal she cannot resist.

Though only a short novel, it is packed with interest. The resolution of the situation is satisfying and the pace of the story just right. Polk’s historical urban fantasy is well worth reading.

Pauline Morgan

March 2023

(pub: Tordotcom, 2022. 144 page hardback. Price: $19.99 (US), $26.99 (CAN), £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-250-84945-8)

check out website: www.tor.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.