Breach of Peace (Book Review)
by Daniel B. Greene
Urban Fantasy, 2021
4 /5 Stars
Breach of Peace is an engrossing and quick-paced debut that introduces readers to Greene’s urban fantasy world.
The characters in the novella were great but lacked a little in development. Granted, it’s a novella, but that’s where novellas can hurt you as an author - oftentimes they feel like they could be longer. There are some novellas that pull this off, but it’s a hard format to master. Did I like the characters though and care about them? Yes, definitely. Khlid was a refreshing take on the grizzled detective because she’s not a brooding loner - she’s in a respectful, loving relationship with one of the other characters, Samuel. Their personalities are set up well, though there was one part that didn’t seem realistic to me. I was very much intrigued by Chapman and it’s clear he’s neurodivergent in some respects. I liked the small glimpses we got into his life but it left me wanting more. The ending would have been more impactful if we’d known the characters for longer.
The plot was very engaging with a grotesque mystery that, thankfully, was at the very edge of “acceptable violence” for me. This isn’t a spoiler, as it’s on the first page, but there is a deceased child in this novel. It’s not described in excruciating detail, but it is there. As someone who is very sensitive to this, I found it rendered in a palatable way and I think it served to reinforce the end result of the story.
Even without the controversy around the book, I would have picked up on how much the cops in this city seem to have complete authority to arrest people at will or bestow violence as they see fit. By the time we reach the end of the novel, it’s clear there is a problem with the system, that Khlid is deluded in her opinion of her career and how much “good” it does in their society. Her delusion is an important part of this perspective, though I don’t think we’re given enough of this to make a poignant statement about the nature of policing.
The setting fell flat for me. There wasn’t enough space in this novella to fully expand on the world and how it functions. I can’t even say we got “the gist” of it, as I walked away with more questions than answers about how the world functioned. I did enjoy the gender parity that seemed to exist in the world and the urban fantasy aspect was appealing to me, despite it not usually being a genre I prefer.
The pace fast made for an exciting story, but I do wish the novella had taken some time to let it breathe a bit. We had a couple of soft moments with Khlid and Samuel, but it felt like a lot of running around. It was entertaining running around though. I didn’t dislike it, to be honest, but from a critical standpoint, it could have taken a breather.
Quite frankly, I’m not sure why Green didn’t just write a book and then offer the novella as an add-on or a prequel. But perhaps this is a marketing tactic.
His descriptions were clear and he’s consistent. He’s able to convey believable, relatable emotion as well as cool action scenes. I very much enjoyed this novella and look forward to a full novel.
I find the “controversy” that sprouted up a few weeks ago about this book fascinating and I talk about it on my Booktube Channel if you want to check it out!