The Hound Of Justice by Claire O’DellThe Hound Of Justice by Claire O’Dell is a near-future dystopian thriller that re-imagines Holmes and Watson as queer black women in a politically fractured USA.

In this second volume of the series, Janet Watson struggles to reclaim her career as a surgeon in the wake of a battle wound that left her with a computerized prosthetic arm, only to have her chance at success derailed by Holmes’ sudden disappearance followed by a high-tech trail of clues asking her to risk not only her career but her life on a quest deep into enemy territory for a rescue that requires a surgeon.

The Characters

Both Janet Watson and Sara Holmes are vividly depicted and grabbed my heart, even when–especially when–they were frustrating and infuriating. Holmes in particular is an exquisite portrayal of a brilliant mind somewhere on the far side of neurotypical, who is learning to be a different type of friend to the intense, damaged Watson who is our viewpoint character. I’m looking forward to the evolution of their partnership over the series, especially because it doesn’t take the easy route of throwing romantic attraction into the mix.

The Writing Style

O’Dell is a masterful writer across multiple genres. Here she shines at exploring the psychological effects of war and near-war on those caught up in a chaos that is too close to reality some days. For sheer “must know what happens next” this book is hard to beat.

The Pros

I loved the twisty puzzles that Holmes set up to entice Watson step by step into the rescue and the vivid depiction of social and political disruption in that form a “what if” counterpoint to our present day. The science-fictional technology is so well imagined that I gave up on guessing which parts were real and which were extrapolated. The depth of my caring for these characters had me on edge through the climax and its aftermath.

The Cons

No cons except maybe a touch of body-horror around some of the surgical aspects.

Heather's favouriteThe Conclusion

This is a book for people who love fast-paced adventure with high levels of suspense.

Excerpt from The Hound Of Justice by Claire O’Dell

We cruised along the state route, a careful five miles under the speed limit. Storm clouds had rolled in from the south, blotting out the sun and bringing an early eerie twilight to the afternoon. Micha was a silent shadow next to me. Faceless. Sexless. Only the red dot of her cigarette betrayed any movement as she took another drag, then blew out a cloud of smoke. We had rolled up the windows, leaving a crack for ventilation, and the wind of our passage whistled and roared, like that of a ship driving through high seas.

I wanted to say, who betrayed us?

I wanted to ask, will my family be safe?

But I kept quiet and stared over the rain-drenched fields, until the storm passed, and a gold and crimson sunset lit the horizon ahead. Without taking her eyes off the road, Micha said, “What you say we get us a good meal up ahead?”

Her voice had slipped into a drawl, slow and easy. “Sure sounds like a good idea,” I replied. I could almost feel my own throat and palate changing shape to match hers.

Six P.M. Selmer, Tennessee. We were two hundred miles from DeWitt in Arkansas, and even longer from the Oklahoma border, but we’d already come across

signs of the war. Memphis had been turned into rubble, during the last Confederacy offensive, and while Arkansas had declared for the Union, everyone knew the rebels controlled half the state.

We stopped at the first Waffle House we found.

Micha ordered a plate of chili cheese fries, then vanished into the parking lot for twenty minutes, while I picked at our food. She returned before 1 finished off that first batch, then ordered two hamburgers and another plate of fries. Once the waitress left with our new order, she leaned over the table.

“1 made a few calls, left a few messages,” she said.

“We can slip across the Mississippi border tonight and into Arkansas. We’ll meet up with my friends farther down the road.”

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Series

The Janet Watson Chronicles

A Study in Honor

The Hound Of Justice 

Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9780062699381

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Claire O’Dell Online

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About the author

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Heather Rose Jones writes fantasy and historically-inspired fiction. She is also a podcaster and writes reviews for books she highly recommends.