Stranger’s Woes by Max Frei

on the publisher's website

The Labyrinths of Echo book 2
a review by Steve Cameron

The Stranger’s Woes continues the story of Max Frei, who now loves his new life in the city of Echo. He has become one of the city’s best agents, and enjoys his role in keeping order in the streets. Working as the Nocturnal Representative of the Most Venerable Head of the Minor Secret Investigative Force of the City of Echo, he spends his time fighting monsters, hunting down bandits and even visiting the Corridors between Worlds as he sleeps.

This book comprises three novellas. One in which Max must solve the case of who has poisoned a ranking city official, another in which he must solve a sticky political situation, and the third in which the undead are rising and placing Echo in danger.

This book continues on immediately after the first in the series. (There are ten altogether in the original Russian, and word is Gollancz plan to release at least the first four in English.) There are no surprises here. The writing is the same, with the same odd, snappy dialogue and extended conversations that drive the action in the first. The characters develop little further than they already have, and the world is still a thinly disguised Soviet past.

If you loved the first book, this is another book you will love. I found this one a lot easier to get into as I was already familiar with the quirky writing style that hindered easy access to the original novel.

Read them in order, give them a go. As for me? I’m hooked enough now to want to read the third, and then the fourth.  Recommended for those who like humorous fantasy and magic realism.

The Stranger’s Woes on the publisher’s website

Originally published in Dark Matter issue 5, September 2011.  This post has been pre-dated to reflect the original publication date.