The domed city of Bridges is in an uneasy peace, but social unrest is stirring in the shadows and the city’s steam-powered infrastructure is slowly failing. In the growing discontent, a new mysterious faction called the Red Dogs is rising to power. Enter Jacqueline Spadros, a young woman with a penchant for detective work and a sordid past living in the lap of luxury and high society. When the little brother of her murdered childhood friend goes missing and the Red Dogs are framed for the crime, Jacqueline must team up with a mysterious gentleman investigator brought in by the Red Dogs themselves to find the missing child before his captor disposes of him.
The Jacq of Spades took me a little by surprise. I actually wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I came into it. I knew it was a steampunk novel, but for whatever reason, I didn’t expect the detective aspect of things. It was a pleasant surprise. The story was very well told and really fun to read. I loved Jacqueline as a character. Her meager beginnings put a fresh spin on the typical high society woman and gave her a depth you don’t always find with steampunk heroines. My only real problem with this book is really more on a personal level. I just don’t enjoy reading about rich families and what they’re wearing and all that kind of stuff. I get that it has its place, especially in a novel like this, but it just bores me. The writing was still excellent, and everything was well done, that always just loses me.
If you like steampunk or detective novels, this is a great option. Buy it here!
Now let’s meet the author!
Patricia Loofbourrow, MD is an SFF and non-fiction writer, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.
First up, give us a Twitter synopsis of the book (140 characters or less):
In a far future neo-Victorian domed city split between four crime families, a private eye tackles her first major case: a missing boy.
Where did the idea for The Jacq of Spades come from?
I wrote a blog post a few months ago about how I got the idea for this series ... you can read it here: http://www.pattyloof.com/blog/how-i-went-from-sentence-to-series/
What difficulties did you encounter when creating Bridges and the families that rule it?
The main issue with creating the Families is that I didn't know much about the Mafia and how it actually worked. When I envisioned the series, I knew I wanted to make it in a somewhat dystopian future where crime families did what Al Capone set out to do (successfully commandeer a major city). I did some research about the Chicago Mob and the Five Families of New York in order to find out how the Mafia was set up.
As far as the city goes, once I got the idea of a domed city-state, how it was powered, and got my head around how big this would have to be in order to have actual weather going on inside it ... well, in a dome that big you can pretty much do whatever you want.
What inspired you make Jacqueline a character that came from nothing instead of being born into the world of high society?
At the heart of this story, the Red Dog Conspiracy is a neo-noir. This sort of story requires an alienated, cynical, anti-hero protagonist giving a first-person narration. I felt the best way to do that was making Jacqui a woman who had come from being one of the untouchables into huge wealth - the dream of most people - then turning the situation into a nightmare. Her world, the Pot, while extremely poor, is the moral spotlight shining on the injustice and callous disregard for human life seen in the quadrants.
Who are your biggest writing influences?
My parents were big on reading, and I grew up on classic SF - Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury - as well as the other classics - Greek myths, Dickens, Tolkien. I love what George RR Martin has done with the Game of Thrones series. I'm a big fan of Frank Herbert's Dune series and the Tom Clancy novels. I also love well-plotted games, TV and movies, too, for example, House of Cards and Starcraft.
Which family in Bridges was your favorite to create?
I think the Diamonds are the most interesting family of the four. I have a whole book planned on the adventures of Jack, Jonathan, and Gardena -- what they are really up to while Jacqui goes on her merry way.
What can we expect next from Patricia Loofbourrow?
I wrote the next book in the Red Dog Conspiracy, The Queen of Diamonds, during the 2015 NaNoWriMo. Right now, I'm in the process of editing it. It's planned for release in March 2017.