Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Jacq Of Spades by Patricia Loufbourrow

The Jacq Of Spades by Patricia Loufbourrow
Published in America by Red Dog Press in November 2015.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : from £11.89 (PB)
Direct from the author : from $14.99 (signed PB)
Smashwords : from : $2.99 (ebook)
Amazon : from £5.99 (used PB)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Kidnapping. Murder. Betrayal. Would you put your life at risk for a child you barely know?
In a far future US, the once-beautiful domed neo-Victorian city of Bridges is now split between four crime families in an uneasy cease-fire. Social disparity increasing and its steam-driven infrastructure failing, a new faction is on the rise: the Red Dogs.
22 year old Jacqueline Spadros was kidnapped from her mother's brothel and sold to the Spadros syndicate ten years ago. The murder of her best friend Air as he tried to save her from them haunts her nightmares. Now unwillingly married to one of the city's biggest drug lords, she finds moments of freedom in a small-time private eye business, which she hides in fear of her sadistic father-in-law.
Air's little brother disappears off his back porch and the Red Dogs are framed for it. With the help of a mysterious gentleman investigator hired by the Red Dogs to learn the truth, Jacqui pushes her abilities to their limits in hope of rescuing the child before the kidnapper disposes of him.

I spotted this steampunk mystery advertised as a limited time free book offer via one of Katherine Hayton's newsletters and was tempted to give it a try. Anita Carroll's noir artwork on the cover is great! The Jacq Of Spades is the first in what is intended to be a thirteen book series and I liked that the characters and city are imagined around a playing cards theme. We have four ruling families - Harts, Clubbs, Diamonds and Spadros - and our lead character, in this book at least, is Jacqueline - our Jacq Of Spades. A brief history of the city is given at the end of the story and I wish I had known earlier because I think I would have read it first. Loufbourrow plunges her readers straight into the story which is great for the mystery, but left me often confused as to relationships and world-building.

As the first of a lengthy series, The Jacq Of Spades does need to spend time setting up the world which Loufbourrow does well. By the end I had a pretty good idea what was going on and why! There isn't much in the way of steampunk elements yet though so I found that a little disappointing. I understand that the city's power source will provide steampunk engineering and inventiveness in further installments, but Jacqueline's baffling kidnap mystery takes centre stage in this novel. She does tend to jump to conclusions without explanation for the reader, so I wasn't convinced by Jacqui as an investigator although her position with the Spadros family is very interesting. Flashbacks are intriguing and I hope are more thoroughly explained as we go on.

I am pleased to have discovered The Jacq Of Spades and think the series will grow well as it progresses. Loufbourrow has set up complicated characters in an unusual world and I think I will enjoy seeing how their lives pan out in future stories.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Patricia Loufbourrow / Steampunk / Books from America


  1. You do manage to read your fair share of steampunk! I actually want to read more of the genre, because I believe there should be a lot more of it around. I really like the sound of this one being so good and enjoyable as well. Great review :)

  2. Patricia Loufbourrow's third Red Dog Conspiracy novel is available for pre-order!
    As a special offer to celebrate, all three are just 99c until March 5th through the URLs below:
    The Jacq Of Spades https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589496?ref=stephjb
    The Queen Of Diamonds https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/629797?ref=stephjb
    The Ace Of Clubs https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/707519?ref=stephjb