The Shadow of the Soul is the second installment in The Dog-Faced Gods series by Sarah Pinborough. I loved the first book, A Matter of Blood and bought the second one shortly after I had finished reading it. The plan was to not dive into it immediately because I thought it would be boring to have two reviews of the same series one after the other but I couldn’t wait. I needed to know what The Network was up to, who they were, and why they were following Cass Jones and his family.
Roughly six months have passed since the last time we met Cass Jones in A Matter of Blood. No one is exactly calling him a hero for uncovering the rot within the Met. Paddington Green is a quieter station after the clean up operation. The trials for the officers who were caught are about to start and the brass expects Cass to stay out of trouble. The entire force has been ordered to stop taking 'harmless' bribes and this does not make Cass any friends. He is now being assigned cases of little importance and lots of paperwork. He has also has a new partner, Toby Armstrong. He has not had any more contact with the mysterious Castor Bright and his Network of conspirators. They are still out there watching him, however. Of that he is certain.
Josh Eagleton, the assistant ME, has at last recovered and is back at work albeit with a limp. Cass is still in touch with Charles Ramsey, the American DI, and they meet up for a pint once in a while. Thanks to his brother's life insurance he now has more money than he ever expected. Small comfort for the loss of his family.
Terrorists have attacked London. Bombs detonate across the capital, crippling the already overloaded transport network. No one claims responsibility for the attacks, but CCTV reveals a portly man at every site. Problem is that they all seem identical. How can one man be in several places at the same time.
Cass is called to a crime scene of a young woman who has slit her wrists. Josh Eagleton is already there and says it looks like suicide, but informs Cass of something odd. Moments before she killed herself, her boyfriend said she repeated the phrase 'Chaos in the darkness'. This is not the first time Josh has come across this. Two weeks ago another young student also slit her wrists and as she lay dying wrote the exact same words in blood on the wall.
In the midst of all this, another matter, more personal and pressing, is brought to light. A lawyer comes to the station saying he has something from Christian, Cass’s brother. That “something” is a note which reads, "They took Luke". Now, in addition to looking for a possible killer, Cass is also on the hunt to find out if his nephew is still alive.
I'm such a fan boy. After a few pages I was hooked yet again. The Shadow of the Soul is even better than A Matter of Blood. My bus got stuck in traffic for 20 minutes and I didn’t even notice until I arrived late for work. I find Sarah Pinborough's writing almost poetic at times. Even a scene of carnage can be oddly beautiful and tranquil.
Cass Jones is such a brilliant character. This guy used to take bribes yet Pinborough manges her shades of gray so well you understand Cass’s motives. He is not a bad man, he simply chose the lesser of two evils. It's also quite interesting how he is so gruff with his new partner, giving him a hard time and not telling him much. But at the same time, he keeps an eye on Toby and acknowledges, mostly to himself, he is actually quite good at his job.
The plot moves along smoothly and at just the right pace to keep you from putting the book down. My only criticism is that a few plot mechanisms from the first book appeared again. For a moment there was a certain feeling of "been there, done that". The enigmatic Castor Bright is featured often and we gain more insight into The Network and their origins. I assure you, though, there are a lot of questions still to be answered in the third book. The Shadow of the Soul was a fantastic read and I want the next one now!
The Shadow of the Soul weighs in at 400 pages and is published by Gollancz.
Read my review of A Matter of Blood.
Verdict: must read