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Summary

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a brilliantly voiced contemporary fantasy for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Rotherweird or Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and the debut novel from high-profile actor Luke Arnold.   

Fetch Phillips fought on the wrong side of a war between humans and magical creatures, and his actions helped to drain the world of enchantment. Now he works on the streets of Sunder City, taking what odd jobs he can while trying to help those whose lives he ruined.  

His first case is to find a missing teacher. Professor Rye is a 400-year-old vampire with a heart of gold in a husk of a body. In a world without magic, most vamps have already crumbled into dust, but Fetch is happy to go looking for some dirt with pointed teeth if it gets him his drinking money. Then, when a young siren disappears, Fetch finds out that this dark world still hides some monsters - and he'd better clean up his act before they come into the light.

©2019 Luke Arnold (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic cross between Sam Spade and the X Men

I usually like to read books that mix fantasy with the everyday and a good dollop of humour, like the Inspector Hobbes Series and anything by Heidi Goody and Ian Grant, so I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but the story soon pulled me in and I kept wanting to listen to find out what happened next. The story was an inventive twist on the theme of vampires, werewolves etc, combined with a main character who was more a Sam Spade type. It shouldn't have worked, but it does! The whole set up is entirely believable and the book, while reaching a conclusion of sorts, doesn't go for the nice neat tidy ending but the sort of messy ending you find in everyday life, only with vampires!
And as for the narration, that's superb. I love the contrast between the hard gumshoe American type accent of the main character and the more western accents of the other characters. It could come across as clunky or forced, but it doesn't. It actually skilfully reinforces the otherness of the main character and gives the story an extra vibrancy. I'm currently listening to the second book in the series, and so far I'm enjoying it as much as and possibly even more so than the first.
Highly recommended!

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Love the concept and the book

For me if you enjoy Dresden files, Ben aaronoovitch, then this by Luke Arnold stands as well tall. The author even does an incredible job as a narrator. For me a must read.

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If you like Dresden you’ll probably like Fetch

Amazing 1st book & intro to a new, flawed hero in a magical world. I enjoyed every minute of this story and the narration by the author was just perfect. So much interwoven, intricate background to set the scene but I never felt as though the essential ‘back story’ stuff took over as it does with many new series.

I’m an avid Dresden fan but this is actually a stronger first novel than in that series. Time will obviously tell if in subsequent books the life journey Fetch goes on will be as amazing, affirming, adventurous, fun and as full of personal growth as Harry’s.

So many intriguing, three dimensional characters and settings were introduced to explain the basics of Fetch’s origin story that the potential for future interactions and story development are quite exciting. The book leaves the reader desperately wanting to know answers to mysteries that were necessarily left hanging. I really like how the protagonist appears to be just as in the dark about many of these mysteries as we are.

My fingers are crossed that 10 Fetch books down the line I will be as invested in him, and his supporting cast of characters, as I am with Dresden’s.

In one book Luke Arnold has created a brilliantly written new potential anti-hero, a fascinating world of myth and magic and a tragic but extremely original back story. There are infinite possibilities. If he can keep the momentum going I’m definitely along for the ride.

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Terrific

Oh what a luscious turn of phrase Mr Arnold has. Perfect scenes evoked with a word sketch.
And my, also a very talented actor/narrator. If not the best, certainly one of the best author narrators I have come across.
An engaging lead character, with his bag of angst and woes, interacts well with other residents of his world. Conversations you believe, that reveal the person and take the story forward.
If I was being super-picky, I would say that during the middle of the story I was a bit muddled. Also, although there were some very droll moments the overall feel was just the teensiest bit, gloomy. I guess that would be all the angsts making their presence felt.
So happy I gave it a shot. I do hope there are more to come.

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A new highlight for Science Fiction and Fantasy

The maturity level of the writing in this book far surpasses what I would expect from a debut title. I truly hope there will be more books written in this world from Luke. What a success! Gripping from the first chapter. a new interpretation of familiar concepts. A bold new setting and daring lead character. I am consumed with curiosity to know more!

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excellent and emotive!

I had originally bought the audio to listen to on my commute, but with the pandemic decided to buy the book also - but after one listen to the audio, I couldn't stop because it was just so well read and I was gripped. I just kept making up chores so I could listen to it! A really original and interesting take on the noir world with engaging and likeable leads. Each character was richly developed no matter how short their appearance. really hope this becomes a long series! As for the reading, it's one of the best I've heard so far on audible, Arnold's ability to become so many different people without it being too stark and noticeable is inspired! A definite rec here!

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melancholic urban fantasy

Fetch isn't a good man, but he's trying to make amends for a terrible mistake. Noirish and sad and beautifully created world building. Recommended.

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enjoyed this book

enjoyed it looking forward to hearing more the story was a little strange at first till I got some context from his flashbacks

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Great fantasy detective noir

Loved it. Will definitely listen to the sequel, great story and brilliantly read by the author

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full of magic

loved the magic and all the magical creatures in this world. Great first book and looking forward to the sequel.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-05-21

Excellent start for a novel writer

Initially got into it because of Black Sails and my love for Luke Arnold, but right off the bat the book got me hooked. Great world-building, engaging story and a really smooth writing filled with creative metaphors and eye(or ear!)-opening comparisons. I definitely recommend to any lover of fantastic literature!

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  • Gaia Marino
  • 11-06-20

So engaging it was bewitching.

The 5 stars are all well deserved, because this was a brilliantly written debut novel.

Actor Luke Arnold is more known for his role as Long John Silver in the STARZ series Black Sails (which is amazing and you should go binge it right now if you haven't yet), and I had no idea he was such a good writer as well. He claims he's always loved writing, but stopped for a few years. Well I am so glad he picked that pen (or keyboard) back up!

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a fantasy thriller with an amazing noir atmosphere, with lovable and immensely flawed characters. It's their flaws that keep you locked to the book, transporting you right to the dusty old roads of Sunder with detective Fetch Phillips: his painkiller addiction is as vivid as your need to know what happened to old, decrepit vampire Professor Edmund Rye. And when stories from the present start weaving with ghosts from the past, and you meet Amarita, Hendricks, and all the colorful characters that made Fetch who he is today, then you already know you're hooked.

The audiobook makes it even better, even if you're not audiobook people (I personally am not, but I just had to give it a shot): Arnold's incredible acting skills give life to the characters to the point of making you forget he's the one voicing them all. And I already can't wait for the second installment of this new incredible series out in October.