The Changeling Detective by Phillip Berrie is about the unwanted case of a private detective. Whilst involved in another investigation our changeling- John Adams, part of AAA Detective Agency- finds himself having bothered a crime boss.
The main character is a changeling who works as a private detective, as I'm sure you'll have worked out from the title. He was orphaned at a young age and, until now; he's never really had much of an idea as to how he's obtained these special powers. Within this novel, he primarily uses the name John Adams. However, he rotates through a variety of others names, depending on who he meets and talks to. I think that the author has thought that portion through well, in connection with the changeling aspect; the character has taken some very intelligent precautions to set up multiple identities and back up possibilities for his business- not just for his safety, but for any potential outcomes or failings. We meet Ruth Williams, an assistant manager who serves him a drink. It turns out that she's fairly important to the plot later and has an unwanted connection to one of the police officers involved. I think that she's a pretty good character. She does her best to help John. I appreciate that she's fairly calm and understanding when he reveals his secret to her. I find her to be very likeable and her motives within the book are fairly straightforward. Stephen Newman, plus his goon Bruno, are both great characters! Newman has made some understandable decisions for his criminal empire and, later on, I enjoy the portions of his identity and past that are revealed to us. I thoroughly enjoyed Bruno's loyalty and the effort he was willing to put in for his boss. For the characters, I think that there were plenty of good interactions between them. Though, there was also some information left out, which leaves us with a bit of curiosity about what happens next.
For those who don't know, Canberra is the capital of Australia, and a great location for The Changeling Detective. Much of the events occur within the inner city areas and I appreciate the nods towards local hotspots that tourists might want to visit. Another part that I really like is that it takes reference from old private investigator media such as the character of Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart. That, and some pretty stylised writing, gives it the touches of a classic PI novel. The main plot had a lot of strong points and had a good structure about the main events. Right from the beginning, with Newman's misunderstanding, up until the end was all fairly understandable and everyone has their part to play. In some portions, it felt kind of weird. For example, after John got shot, I felt it to be kind of strange that he healed so easily, but that was later explained and I think most of the weird portions only seemed that way because I didn't have all the information yet. I kind of wish that there were more portions surrounding the investigation of the death of Ruth's father, though I can understand why much of that was left out; I assume that it's being left for a future book, assuming there's going to be another in the series.
Though, I still think that there was more to tell in this book; there are unanswered questions I have about it. The same with much of the changeling aspects. We got some fairly good information regarding his abilities and I think that the author has got a good basis so far, but I am definitely curious to know more about the condition. Though, having said that, a lot of the questions I had whilst reading the book were answered later on in other portions. I felt that the supernatural and fantastical aspects of the plot were fairly well dealt with, especially considering that it wasn't just one person with a set of magical abilities. I like that Ruth also has some unexplained powers to deal with. I like to think that there are reasonable amounts of other people in the city (and world) that have some sort of supernatural abilities. I think the changeling portions are done well. The author has obviously put time and thought into what the character needs in order to change (reasonably large space, mirrors, etc). Not to mention how these changes affect the character's life. Cleverly, the character uses things such as reversible clothing. I appreciate that the changing isn't exactly easy for him and that it takes time and a bit of effort to do. It's nice to know that it's not as simple as it could be in the magical world of fiction writing.
Overall, I think the thing that helps the story most is that the story is set up in an intelligent manner; the characters make some very smart decisions. The characters are fairly likeable and I'm left curious as to what happens to all of them in the future. I liked the supernatural parts and felt that they were completely intertwined with the story, an important aspect to the book. After reading it, I'm very happy with the way it turned out and I'm hoping that the author ends up writing another. It's definitely worth a read.
I was lucky enough to win a hard copy of this book from a First Reads giveaway, here on Goodreads. I began reading it the very same day though unfortunately, due to health problems, I was unable to finish it until now.