Title ~ Where There’s Smoke (Panopolis #1)
Author ~ Cari Z
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 27th April 2015
Genre ~ M/M Fantasy, Comic Book thriller.
Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.
But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.
Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.
Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.
I have to admit, I’m not a comic book or superhero fan and I have never read a book by Cari Z, but that blurb… I couldn’t resist… and just had to #oneclick and I am so glad I did… This is a fabulous little gem that reverses the usual preconceived notions of the superheroes found in this cult classic genre; interspersed at the beginning of each chapter with some insight into the city of Panopolis by blog reporter SuperTruther, who enlightens us with bulletins that give us a glimpse of the corrupt politics, and highlights the propaganda of how the embellished good and vilified evil is twisted, in a city where everything is not all as it seems.
It was SuperTruthers tales of heroes and villains that first drew Edward to Panopolis, well, that and the excitement of witnessing those tales first hand and possibly coming face to face with a real life hero. Getting a job in a bank was a bonus for Edward and the thought of getting rescued by a hero was his dream, but when the Mad Bombardier turns up to rob the bank, it’s actually Edward that ends up saving the villain.
I loved this contorted vision of Cari Z’s world, where the superheroes have selfish over inflated egos and the villain of the piece is the one with the touch of emotional compassion, I found myself rooting for the villain and rolling my eyes at the hero… but I’m always a sucker for the bad boys!
Despite this being a novella, I didn’t feel short changed in the slightest with regard to content, there seemed to be so much more packed into this book than the page count actually dictates and that is not something that is easily achieved, especially when it’s the first book in a series. Cari Z has expertly penned and brilliantly executed a story that has me all kinds of excited to get my hands on the next book, which for me, has been set up perfectly. Where There’s Smoke is a refreshingly original and very clever, if a little dark and distorted view of a world where the heroes and villains become a source of revenue to a corrupt society that is happy to turn a blind eye, to bask in the glory of good… supposedly benefiting the citizens of this metropolis… with our two main characters embroiled right in the thick of it.
In all the madness of this crazy city and despite Raul (Mad Bombadier) being a villain, it was the love between Raul and Edward that really got to me, there is such a simplicity to it, which I particularly liked. But at the same time, it’s so intense. I really felt the connection between these two men, and I loved how Cari Z very cleverly and subtly weaved this into the story, with the result being something quite beautiful, in and amongst all the chaos.
And it comes complete with a mad scientist… haha, I love that!