Jake Daggers is, as he describes himself in chapter one, paragraph six “six feet, three inches, and 220 pounds of sausage- and donut-fueled crime fighting brilliance.” The new partner that was forced upon him after his old partner retired is Shay Steele. Part elf, part green around the edges. Daggers’ words, not mine.
Red Hot Steele is a fun take on the police procedural. I can’t quite describe it as noir. Daggers first person narrative tries to give it that feel, but it is really too humorous. Throw in some elves, goblins, trolls, other assorted non-human beings, a little magic and a lot of crime and you have the adventures of Daggers & Steele.
I had a hard time pinpointing the world that Red Hot Steele takes place in. There are mages, though the use of magic does not seem to be prolific. There is no electricity and the internal combustion engine is non-existent. Blades are the only type of weapons that are available, but only the military is allowed to carry them. The cops carry truncheons. The language is very modern. Sexual roles are skewed away from equality, but to be fair, not clearly defined in this book. The location is made up, but the city is described in ways a modern city dweller could relate to. I finally decided to give up on classifying the world and take it at face value. A made up place in a made up world, but with enough similarities to my world so as to make this an easy-to-read book.
Do you watch TV cop shows? Have you seen Castle? That is the show I kept thinking of as I read Red Hot Steele. Daggers and Steele = Castle and Beckett (the lead detectives). Quinto and Rodgers = Esposito and Ryan (they do the legwork). The dynamics between both sets of book partners is very similar to the TV partners. There is a precinct captain to dole out wisdom and a cool coroner to explain the icky stuff. And they like to drink coffee. Whether this similarities are on purpose or accidental, as a fan of the show, it works for me.
Daggers is sexist. Not horribly sexist, and I think he is trainable, but Daggers’ first reaction to meeting his new partner was to send her for coffee. He calls her ‘Shay’, her first name, even though he thinks no self-respecting homicide detective goes by their first name. Or he calls her ‘elf girl’. Not that I would call that nickname sexist. Daggers like to make up nicknames for everyone. My favorite is Pants-free McGee.
Daggers likes kolaches. A lot. I have a complaint about this kolache habit though. Daggers talks as though kolaches and donuts are the same thing (see my first sentence of this review). In my part of the world, donuts are fried and kolaches are baked. We would never confuse the two. Just had to get that out. Thanks for reading this paragraph.
So far, I really haven’t said much about the plot. Bad guy commits a crime. Make that multiple bad guys commit multiple crimes. Detectives run (or ride in a rickshaw) all over town chasing clues. Several theories are put forth until one theory reigns supreme and the case is solved. I know, that makes it sound pretty simplistic and this case really is not simple at all. However, the approach to solving it is nothing new. Not that I was bothered by that. I really was into the characters, so following them on the hunt was what kept me reading this book.
Since Red Hot Steele is told by Daggers, it is pretty Daggers-centric. I have a feeling it will take a few books to get to know Steele as well as we know Daggers by the end of book 1. Don’t get me wrong. Shay Steele is a critical character with lots of her own charm – like putting Daggers in his place. But Daggers has to get to know her better before the reader can. I do like how Steele is portrayed as young and experienced but still intelligent and with enough confidence to hold her own in the precinct.
Daggers, as the narrator, is quite entertaining. His observations are informative and colorful. Jake Daggers’ humor alone makes Red Hot Steele a book to recommend!
There are currently five books in the Daggers & Steele series. Book one is free right now. So now is a great time to try this series! If you like audiobooks, the Audible version of Red Hot Steele is available for a mere $1.99 if you ‘buy’ the free Kindle book.
It’s not that I hate mornings, it’s that they always come at such an inconvenient time of the day.
Jake Daggers – Red Hot Steele