Carrie Vaughn’s Bannerless is a quiet little book that sneaks up on the reader like the moon slowly appearing from behind a cloud. You know it’s there but it’s more and more beautiful as it reveals itself.
In some dystopian future of our world, civilization is recovering from some sort of socio-political, economic, and environmental collapse. Life is slower and simpler than the days before the collapse. The population and agriculture are carefully controlled in order to maintain a status quo. In order for a household to have children, they must first prove that they are responsible enough to earn the privilege and then they are awarded a ‘banner’. Having a banner is a mark of being a good citizen.
But mankind and human nature hasn’t changed too much over the decades.
Enid is an Investigator. It is a law enforcement job in which she is detective, cop, judge, and jury all rolled into one. She is young and hasn’t worked on any serious cases but that’s about to change. Enid and her partner Tomas are called to the quaint community of Pasadan along the Coast Road to investigate a questionable death.
Although the Investigators are asked to come, the locals aren’t particularly welcoming to the duo. Enid knows that this sort of reaction is typical for someone in her line of work, but Pasadan’s citizens seem to have something to hide. The dead man, Sero, was a loner with no friends and all signs of the death indicate that it was an accident. But something doesn’t ‘feel’ right to Enid and Tomas is letting her take the lead.
Complicating Enid’s investigation is the appearance of Dak, her former lover and now a wandering minstrel.
The tone here is quiet and methodical but still tremendously fascinating. I am reminded of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale but less dark and creepy.
The mystery at hand is solid and Enid’s investigation here makes this a really remarkable mystery. The sci-fi aspect is subtle and we get bits and pieces of the history and current state of affairs as the story develops and this mystery is even more intriguing than that of Sero’s death (even if it is just a part of the setting).
I look forward to reading more in this world and learning more about these characters.
Looking for a good book? Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn is a wonderful mystery in a beautifully crafted future world and well worth reading.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Carrie Vaughn
series: The Coast Road #1
publisher: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
paperback, 274 pages