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Snake Agent (2005)

by Liz Williams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Detective Inspector Chen (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8073620,291 (3.72)74
Introducing Singaporean DI, Wei Chen. "This exotic amalgam of police procedural, SF, comic fantasy, and horror is a delight from start to finish" (Locus). When the fourteen-year-old daughter of Singapore Three's most prominent industrialist dies of anorexia, her parents assume that Pearl's suffering has come to an end. But somewhere along the way to the Celestial Shores, Pearl's soul is waylaid, lured by an unknown force to the gates of Hell. To save their daughter from eternal banishment, they come to Detective Inspector Wei Chen, whose jurisdiction lies between this world and the next. A round-faced cop who is as serious as his beat is strange, Chen has a demon for a wife and a comfort with the supernatural that most mortals cannot match. But finding Pearl Tang will take him further into the abyss than ever before--to a mystifying place where he will have to cooperate with a demonic detective if he wants to survive. It's easy, Chen will find, to get into Hell. The hard part is getting out. Snake Agent is the first of the five Detective Inspector Chen Novels, which continue with The Demon and the City and Precious Dragon. … (more)
  1. 00
    Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Both feature unusual supernatural mysteries
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» See also 74 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Dnf @ 15%

This book didn't catch my attention unfortunately. Maybe I'll try it again later. ( )
  Alevis | May 17, 2020 |
Really more like a 3.5 stars for me. An interesting mix of a police procedural, magic and mythology that didn't completely gel for me. I was interested and entertained enough to finish and will read the next one in the series, but it was a bit of a slog in places.

( )
  Skybalon | Mar 19, 2020 |
Detective Inspector Chen #1
  Ronald.Marcil | Jul 7, 2019 |
The Housemate has been raving about these books for several months, so I thought I'd dive in in December, a month which, so far, has not been what I would call either comforting or joyous. Fortunately, she was dead right about the Inspector Chen novels. Snake Agent, the first of the series, is an intriguingly different sort of detective fiction which takes place in a world where magic, magical creatures, gods and goddesses, heaven, hell, demons and ghosts all have a role to play in the mystery of a young woman whose soul is stolen after her death, and wrongly sent to Hell.

Detective Inspector Wei Chen, a human detective who nevertheless is quite familiar with the supernatural, takes on the case with the help of a demonic detective who also has a stake in the outcome. Chen serves the goddess Kuan Yin, but they're not on the best of terms because he has married a demon who he rescued from Hell. When his beloved wife is forcibly returned to Hell, he knows he's on his own.

I'm not as conversant with Chinese culture as I might wish to be, so much of Williams' story was even stranger to me than it might otherwise have been. The series has been likened to The Dresden Files books, or John Constantine's adventures, and I think both are apt, but it's very much outside the western fantasy sphere. It is deeply eastern, deeply Chinese in flavor, and for me that meant taking in an extra layer of meaning and experience. It's not difficult since Williams is a good writer, and it makes the reading all the more rewarding.

If you're up for something different, something fantastic, mysterious, and well-written, you might want to give the first book of the series a try. The mystery is solid, the characters won me over, and the humor is subtle. I'm anxious to read the next book in the series now. ( )
  Tracy_Rowan | Dec 14, 2017 |
Fun read; different world"; location is "Singapore Three" ... notion being that Singapore has "franchised it's model of city-building! (really part of china); Dealings between the world, and Heaven and Hell, while not strictly routine, happen often enough that the police dept has a detective specializing in Supernatural cases and their own staff exorcist"
  GeetuM | Jun 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liz Williamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Hanging by his heels and twisting slowly in the draught that slipped beneath the crimson door, Detective Inspector Chen tried desperately to attract the demon's attention.
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Introducing Singaporean DI, Wei Chen. "This exotic amalgam of police procedural, SF, comic fantasy, and horror is a delight from start to finish" (Locus). When the fourteen-year-old daughter of Singapore Three's most prominent industrialist dies of anorexia, her parents assume that Pearl's suffering has come to an end. But somewhere along the way to the Celestial Shores, Pearl's soul is waylaid, lured by an unknown force to the gates of Hell. To save their daughter from eternal banishment, they come to Detective Inspector Wei Chen, whose jurisdiction lies between this world and the next. A round-faced cop who is as serious as his beat is strange, Chen has a demon for a wife and a comfort with the supernatural that most mortals cannot match. But finding Pearl Tang will take him further into the abyss than ever before--to a mystifying place where he will have to cooperate with a demonic detective if he wants to survive. It's easy, Chen will find, to get into Hell. The hard part is getting out. Snake Agent is the first of the five Detective Inspector Chen Novels, which continue with The Demon and the City and Precious Dragon. 

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