Johannes Cabal, The Detective by Jonathan L. Howard
I read the first book in this series with great delight and not a little sadness when my favorite character died in it. But I hold out hope (feh, I know he comes back in subsequent books, for which I am glad). Horst is a necessary leven to Johannes Cabal, and I felt his absence in this second book of the series.
It took me an abysmally long time to read this relatively short book, and part of that was, despite the dark humor and interesting observations that were sprinkled in, the central concept of the novel was a sort of Christie mystery -- passengers on a ship when one is mysteriously discovered to have committed suicide -- or maybe not. The ship board mystery portion of the book was a bit draggy and lost my interest.
But Howard is a capable author, so when I resolved to finish this book before embarking on the next, I had hope things would get more interesting. And, they did! A little chemistry, a little necromancy, a lot of skulking around, and another glimpse into the distant event that set Cabal upon his path to conquer death. So, it was worth reading, even if it seems to be a divergence from the overall arc set up in the first book.
I also read a short story by an author who interests me
Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang
SF/F stories by people of color, people with roots in non-Western cultures, and queer people are still a bit of a rarity (I think that's just beginning to change, and yay!) which makes finding good ones a real treat. All of that comes together in this story, set in an unfamiliar universe based on assumptions and tropes that weren't terribly familiar to me. Revolution, the risks of being "different", the throwing off of social expectations, and the dangers of love, are all mixed into some 33 pages. I have this author's other books on my wish list.