I have been reading a lot of fantasy recently, and so much of it has just blended together in my mind. There's a fair amount out there that is good, but much of a sameness with everything else that's out there. There are relatively few distinctive voices.
So, when this fantasy-crossed-with-noir popped up, I was more than ready to read it. As soon as I started it, I could tell the noir edges the author was trying to put on a fantasy tale, with a hard-boiled detective/enforcer/former noble, and the cases he tries to solve, including one little sordid tale of adultery and running away, had a good feel for the sleaziness and corruption that mark the best noir novels.
As it went on, Eddie LaCrosse delved into the main mystery, finding out for his old best friend, now king, whether or not the queen really did murder her child in cold blood on a moonlit night. She looks damned familiar to LaCrosse, though, and he has to find out whether she's a consummate con artist, or if something stranger is going on.
The book got a little further away from noir in the later parts, and more into a fantasy, but the voice stayed distinctive enough that I continued to enjoy it. This is a grimy world, where most people are just trying to stay alive, and small cities are rife with corrupt cops, sleazy businessmen, and stacked blondes.
There are some good female characters too, despite that. They aren't the focus of the story, but they aren't entirely one-dimensional either.
Since it is a fantasy, sometimes the strangest answers can end up being the true ones. The ending isn't quite as convoluted as I thought it might be, but it ties everything up nicely, and it was such a relief to read something that felt different. That may be artificially inflating my impression of the book, but it was a fun read, and very welcome.