I love this series and I love the two main characters, Philip Eslingen and Nico Rathe. I love that in this book they're getting a little more settled into their relationship. And they've not forgotten Sunflower, the dog! I love that Nico is a born pointsman (policeman), smart, logical, observant and so upright sometimes that it hurts! And I love that Philip, one of the leaders of the new City Guard (a type of militia unit), is more of a running on instinct fellow, more liable to jump to the right conclusions and just sly enough to get by. And I love that the author doesn't forget to remind us of his soldiering/cavalry roots.
The mystery this time around focusses on the water. The weather, the river, the tunnels beneath the city. Philip is quite unlucky with water, his stars being very bad for it. There are abductions, murders, thugs and bribery. There are river monsters and a river spirit who is absolutely evil. And there are some pointespeople at the Point of Sighs office that we start to get to know, mostly don't trust at the beginning but then see Rathe be Rathe and grudgingly they begin to be won over.
One thing that bugged me however, and I don't remember it being the case in previous books. The society of Nico and Philip's world is matriarchal. No problem, I'm good with that. But in many instances, the narrative would read something like... oh... he was looking for a place where a woman might hide - it was every woman for herself - which is all well and good, but when the story is being told from a man's POV, it's kind of jarring for me. Because I find myself wondering if why they're looking for a woman, if they're ONLY looking for a woman, did I miss why it's a woman. It felt almost obnoxious to my reading ear, but maybe that's because I'm 61 years old with 55 years of reading under my belt and habits are hard to break.
But I loved this visit to Astreiant and I truly hope there are more, 'cause I'll be there to buy them!