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Even Though I Knew the End, by C.L. Polk

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also the author and I have been friends since Fido was a pup, as my grandmother would say.

So you’ve got a noir 1940s Chicago setting. You’ve got a lesbian protagonist with a steady girlfriend she wants to move away and buy a house and settle down with–but in the meantime they go drinking and dancing in clubs that cater to the women of Chicago who love the other women of Chicago. And then you’ve got…arcane magic with demons and angels bargaining for the souls of humans. And it’s all got a swiftly ticking time clock, because if Helen (Elena) Brandt doesn’t find this arcane serial killer in three days, she’ll be both dead and damned.

You know. No pressure.

I barely stopped reading this novella to eat supper. The characters’ lies, omissions, and outright mistakes all fit their personalities achingly well and propel them toward their interlocking ending. Helen has a compelling, wry, individual voice, and the balance of introduction, action, and payoff is perfect for its length, neither a splinter of novel nor a bloated short story but wholly itself. Definitely recommended.

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