The first chapters of Clues of Chaos will feel familiar to devotees of the classic detective novel. A murderer strikes. The victim has a high profile. A detective arrives to solve the case with little to work on in the way of clues. A tense mystery packed with intrigue and twists ensues.
Author Gary Caplan boasts a masterful command of classic murder mystery tropes, and this fluency makes his book a refreshing entry into the canon. The real achievement, however, is how Caplan brings that detective noir feel into a completely different universe.
In Clues of Chaos, the murder takes place in Eidelon, a vaguely medieval setting full of magic, knights and monsters that one would expect in a boilerplate fantasy novel. The victim is Lady Seneca, sister of a senator, and the detective is Master Leozanthicus, a wizard and warrior who employs a pair of knights to help solve the mystery.
Their investigation uncovers a wide-ranging plot that threatens the future of Eidelon and Megalos, its capital city. The murder is tied to much more ambitiously evil plans by the Chaos Warriors, a group of villains with deep roots. Drawing on magical powers, extraterrestrial allies and old-fashioned detective work, Leozanthicus and his allies work to solve the crime and save the world.
Like any good fantasy, author Caplan creates an imagined world with a rich history and mythology. At the same time, he manages to weave a straightforward and intriguing central narrative liable to keep even casual fantasy readers engaged.
Although the complex history and varied characters of Eidelon may be a bit overwhelming for newbies to the fantasy and science fiction genres, Caplan does an admirable job of creating entry points for readers of all backgrounds and presents a genuinely innovative twist on several genres. His work is bound to please fantasy fans and lovers of gritty detective stories.
Also available as a paperback.