Detective Inspector Chen of the Singapore Three police department specializes in cases of a supernatural and mystical nature. When a young girl’s ghost fails to arrive in heaven, instead ending up in hell, it’s Chen job to find out why. Seneschal Zhu Irzh is a demon working for Hell’s own police force and is ordered to find a wayward ghost. Soon Chen and the Zhu Irzh cross paths and realize there is something more going on than a missing ghost. They uncover a conspiracy leading to the depths of Hell all the way to the gates of Heaven itself.
I certainly liked the Asian flavor to Snake Agent. The world of ghosts, demons, and gods set in a futuristic Asian city was a welcome change to the normal urban fantasies about werewolves and vampires in Western cities. Heaven and hell are closer and more influential than the modern world would like to believe. In Williams’ universe, both sides have their own roles and good and evil is not always as clear-cut as you might think.
Snake Agent is some ways a little amateurish with a couple parts reading like something straight out of writing 101. Williams also gives some of the demonic characters a “flavoring” of good to make them greyer and more sympathetic, effectively making them humanized demons. Personally, I felt it didn’t quite work. However, allowances can be made for a first novel and for the most part the book is well written.
Snake Agent will appeal to all fans of urban fantasy, especially those who like books with a more exotic flavor. Recommended.