RogerBW's Blog

The Sun Is God, Adrian McKinty 04 May 2023

2014 historical mystery with fantastic elements. In 1906, former military police Lieutenant William Prior is going native in German New Guinea. Then he's asked to help look into a mysterious death in the local colony of weirdoes…

Of course, August Engelhardt's proto-commune was a real thing. But unlike Stuart Turton's The Devil and the Dark Water, this book is based directly on what's known of it (with an admixture of invention which mostly doesn't contradict the very limited historical record), with most of the characters being real people. That's satisfying in that they act with complexity; but it's also frustrating, because nobody's personal story really goes anywhere. Even Prior ends up by the end much as he was at the beginning.

But take it as a slice of life and it's enjoyable, as the idealism of Engelhardt and his disciples collides with Prior's observation of the harsh reality of living on a malarial island and eating only coconuts. There's fanaticism, certainly, but not always from the expected quarters.

It's certainly a change of pace from McKinty's usual Belfast-set recent-past grimy mysteries; in fact, I think I prefer this style, even if we're still dealing with a damaged protagonist who's nonetheless an amazing detective and irresistible to the opposite sex. As a mystery it's unsatisfying because of an inconclusive ending with rather too much deus ex machina, and similarly as a character study it falls a little flat, but taken as an historical curiosity it's rather more fun.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

See also:
The Devil and the Dark Water, Stuart Turton

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime crystal cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2021 hugo 2022 hugo 2023 hugo 2024 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1