'Night of the Long Shadows' introduces one of the few characters of the Eberron setting to have anything like the traction of a Drizzt or a Raistlin. He appears in a few other titles and I believe will be an official npc in the revamped Eberron Setting for 5th Edition. Abraxus Wren is a half-elf of means and is in possession of many beloved and frustrating tropes of the genius detective. His excellent observation skills and nose for mystery are complimented by an over-bearing ego and an insufferable proficiency in everything from combat to opera.
Because this is a D&D novel, Wren's self-consciously hetero-normative and there's a lot of pretty ladies of every player-character race out there that need to hear that they're pretty. There's a way to write about flirting and female appreciation that isn't so...gross. Crilley could read a few romances and pick up some pointers. Anyway, the constant reminder of how awesome and sexy Wren was doesn't gel with the detective vibe - even the noir guys were at least self-effacing and creative with their legs for days compliments - that's more of a Bond thing - so, it threw the tone off.
The book opens with Wren's dwarven hetero-lifemate Torin coming upon a grisly scene: a huge tattooed man covered in blood standing over a corpse with blades in his hands. The victim was a prominent professor of Morgrave University and Wren becomes involved with the investigation.
The story switches gears and we see the crime from the perspective of the tattooed man, Cutter, as he heads towards the university to convince his girlfriend Rowan, a courtesan, to back out of a theft that may make them rich, but will surely put a price on their heads.
The book pulls together interesting elements of Sharn and makes use of several official NPCs and locations to great advantage. The mystery itself was no great shakes, but has some twists and turns, and I liked the time spent humanizing most of the characters, main and secondary. In the end, this passed the time and got me checking references in my Eberron sourcebooks to good effect.
See also, 'Taint of the Black Brigade' for more Abraxis Wren
Next: 'Legacy of Wolves'
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