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The Demon And The City

by Liz Williams

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Detective Inspector Chen (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4381042,995 (3.58)15
In this "satisfyingly suspenseful" urban fantasy, a demon teams up with a human detective on the Singapore police force (Booklist). Zhu Irzh is having trouble adjusting to life on Earth. The food is bland, the colors dim, and the weather much too chilly for a demon used to the balmy climate of the underworld. Recently attached to the Singapore Three police department, Zhu Irzh has been assigned to help humans like Detective Inspector Chen investigate cases that overlap this world and the world to come. But how dedicated can a demon be to justice when his last assignment was to Hell's vice squad--whose job is not to prevent vice, but to promote it? Zhu Irzh is pondering these philosophical questions when he catches his first murder case: the savage killing of a rich would-be witch outside of the occult market. Chen is on a well-deserved vacation, so the demon takes charge himself, unearthing a supernatural conspiracy that proves Hell holds no monopoly on evil. The Demon and the City is the second of the five Detective Inspector Chen Novels, which also include Snake Agent and Precious Dragon.  … (more)
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Such a promising start to the series in Snake agent then I read this what a let down, won't be carrying on with the series. ( )
  Eclipse777 | Jul 6, 2019 |

2.5 stars
I started out loving this book which was a real surprise as I didn't like the last one that much and was really on the fence about even reading further. My biggest complaint with the first one was how sexist it was both in a lack of women characters in general. Even the extras, those that are there to hold the door or answer the phone, were almost exclusively men. The women were stupid and weak, other than the goddess who was just annoying. Other readers liked Inari but I found her whiny and weak and subservient and controlled by her husband because he cared about her so much! How many abusive husbands use that excuse to manipulate their wives?

But I really liked the demon Zhu Irzhs, the dark humor, and the complex world Williams created. And though it may not be that accurate, the depiction of a culture other than white American in an urban fantasy novel was refreshingly, well, novel. With trepidation, I decided to give the second one a go since my favorite character Zhu Irzhs was the main protagonist and Inari wasn't even in the book.

So paint me shocked that within a few pages I was introduced to several strong lesbians who were integral to the plot. The first few chapters were so good that I thought that a rating of five stars might be in this book's future. Williams continued to describe this complex world through showing rather than telling. (Actually the telling was more confusing than the showing.) The plot at that point was complicated but understandable and not at all predictable.

But oh how quickly do hopes get dashed. Very quickly it was revealed that the lesbians were all evil, in love with men, dead, or a combination of the above. Come on! Why can't there be a positive lesbian character in a mainstream urban fantasy novel? (There are several series with gay male characters that I love, but not with lesbians that I've found. If you are aware of any let me know!) This trickery is so early 20th century, so The Well of Loneliness et al where a lesbian cannot survive being a lesbian. They all die or find men.

But I read on because I liked the plot, there was lots of action, and I was curious what would happen next. But suddenly, around the middle of the book, I realized I just didn't care anymore. I read a few more chapters to see if it was just a loll but no. By the time Chen came back a few chapters later (the chapters are very short) I was bored stiff. The original murder mystery didn't even seem important anymore and the rest of the plot didn't make a lot of sense, at least not yet. I didn't like most of the characters and even the demon was annoying thus time around. There was some caricature of a vengeful magic user who kept cropping up even though he appears to have been a plot device more than anything.

A few more nitpicks: Yin & Yang are not positive and negative. A child is repeatedly referred to as "it" even though gender is known, the demon takes a cold shower to lower his libido but he's always cold, they call a woman in her late 20's a girl, and the worst thing of all, a BIG pet peeve: It's "another THINK coming" not "another thing coming"!

I wrote this and was all set to mark the book as abandoned but I then remembered that most of what I loved about the last book was the banter between Chen & the demon. So I went back and sped-read through the scenes that didn't involve both of them until about a quarter of the way from the end the action picked up, the different story lines braided together and things started happening. The end was one long action sequence which would probably have left me breathless if I cared about any of the characters a whole lot. I have to say the goddesses were strong and intelligent and one of the human females was almost recognizable as a 21st century metropolitan young woman (but not quite).

The biggest problem at the end I can't tell you without spoiling things but suffice to say I wanted to kick a woman upside the head for thinking she was strong when she did something heinously not. But the second worst problem was continuity. For example, at one point someone is fragmenting/melting/dissolving and the next scene he's fine and no explanation is given, a very important storyline was not completed and will be problematic in the next book, and new creature and ideas kept being introduced too late in the game.

So once again I am left giving this 2.5 stars and thinking I'm not going to read the next one. But I've said that before so who knows. Maybe if I'm desperate. ( )
  maybedog | Apr 5, 2013 |

2.5 stars
I started out loving this book which was a real surprise as I didn't like the last one that much and was really on the fence about even reading further. My biggest complaint with the first one was how sexist it was both in a lack of women characters in general. Even the extras, those that are there to hold the door or answer the phone, were almost exclusively men. The women were stupid and weak, other than the goddess who was just annoying. Other readers liked Inari but I found her whiny and weak and subservient and controlled by her husband because he cared about her so much! How many abusive husbands use that excuse to manipulate their wives?

But I really liked the demon Zhu Irzhs, the dark humor, and the complex world Williams created. And though it may not be that accurate, the depiction of a culture other than white American in an urban fantasy novel was refreshingly, well, novel. With trepidation, I decided to give the second one a go since my favorite character Zhu Irzhs was the main protagonist and Inari wasn't even in the book.

So paint me shocked that within a few pages I was introduced to several strong lesbians who were integral to the plot. The first few chapters were so good that I thought that a rating of five stars might be in this book's future. Williams continued to describe this complex world through showing rather than telling. (Actually the telling was more confusing than the showing.) The plot at that point was complicated but understandable and not at all predictable.

But oh how quickly do hopes get dashed. Very quickly it was revealed that the lesbians were all evil, in love with men, dead, or a combination of the above. Come on! Why can't there be a positive lesbian character in a mainstream urban fantasy novel? (There are several series with gay male characters that I love, but not with lesbians that I've found. If you are aware of any let me know!) This trickery is so early 20th century, so The Well of Loneliness et al where a lesbian cannot survive being a lesbian. They all die or find men.

But I read on because I liked the plot, there was lots of action, and I was curious what would happen next. But suddenly, around the middle of the book, I realized I just didn't care anymore. I read a few more chapters to see if it was just a loll but no. By the time Chen came back a few chapters later (the chapters are very short) I was bored stiff. The original murder mystery didn't even seem important anymore and the rest of the plot didn't make a lot of sense, at least not yet. I didn't like most of the characters and even the demon was annoying thus time around. There was some caricature of a vengeful magic user who kept cropping up even though he appears to have been a plot device more than anything.

A few more nitpicks: Yin & Yang are not positive and negative. A child is repeatedly referred to as "it" even though gender is known, the demon takes a cold shower to lower his libido but he's always cold, they call a woman in her late 20's a girl, and the worst thing of all, a BIG pet peeve: It's "another THINK coming" not "another thing coming"!

I wrote this and was all set to mark the book as abandoned but I then remembered that most of what I loved about the last book was the banter between Chen & the demon. So I went back and sped-read through the scenes that didn't involve both of them until about a quarter of the way from the end the action picked up, the different story lines braided together and things started happening. The end was one long action sequence which would probably have left me breathless if I cared about any of the characters a whole lot. I have to say the goddesses were strong and intelligent and one of the human females was almost recognizable as a 21st century metropolitan young woman (but not quite).

The biggest problem at the end I can't tell you without spoiling things but suffice to say I wanted to kick a woman upside the head for thinking she was strong when she did something heinously not. But the second worst problem was continuity. For example, at one point someone is fragmenting/melting/dissolving and the next scene he's fine and no explanation is given, a very important storyline was not completed and will be problematic in the next book, and new creature and ideas kept being introduced too late in the game.

So once again I am left giving this 2.5 stars and thinking I'm not going to read the next one. But I've said that before so who knows. Maybe if I'm desperate. ( )
  maybedog | Apr 5, 2013 |
I didn't like it as much as the first (Snake Agent). But it was still good enough that I'm looking for the third in the series. If you liked the first, I'd recommend this one. If you weren't so sure on the first, but you're hoping this one gets better.... it doesn't. Maybe the third will... ( )
  JohnnyPanic13 | Apr 3, 2013 |
I didn't like it as much as the first (Snake Agent). But it was still good enough that I'm looking for the third in the series. If you liked the first, I'd recommend this one. If you weren't so sure on the first, but you're hoping this one gets better.... it doesn't. Maybe the third will... ( )
  JohnnyPanic13 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liz Williamsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foster, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In this "satisfyingly suspenseful" urban fantasy, a demon teams up with a human detective on the Singapore police force (Booklist). Zhu Irzh is having trouble adjusting to life on Earth. The food is bland, the colors dim, and the weather much too chilly for a demon used to the balmy climate of the underworld. Recently attached to the Singapore Three police department, Zhu Irzh has been assigned to help humans like Detective Inspector Chen investigate cases that overlap this world and the world to come. But how dedicated can a demon be to justice when his last assignment was to Hell's vice squad--whose job is not to prevent vice, but to promote it? Zhu Irzh is pondering these philosophical questions when he catches his first murder case: the savage killing of a rich would-be witch outside of the occult market. Chen is on a well-deserved vacation, so the demon takes charge himself, unearthing a supernatural conspiracy that proves Hell holds no monopoly on evil. The Demon and the City is the second of the five Detective Inspector Chen Novels, which also include Snake Agent and Precious Dragon.  

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