Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (The Craft Sequence #3 / Published 1st)
A god has died, and it's up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis's steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.
Tara's job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help: Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god, who's having an understandable crisis of faith.
When Tara and Abelard discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb's courts and their quest for the truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and Alt Coulumb's slim hope of survival.
TITLE: Three Parts Dead
AUTHOR: Max Gladstone
PUBLISHER: TOR Books
LENGTH: 333 pages
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
*The first five books of this series were written and published out of in-universe chronological order. The comments in this review are based on reading the series in publishing order, where THREE PARTS DEAD is read first. At some future date I might do a chronological order read-through and redo the sequel checks accordingly.*
THREE PARTS DEAD is a murder mystery where a new Associate must work with a young priest to find out who murdered his god. Well-paced and dripping with contractual language, with a stunning conclusion plucked from the embers of a dying flame.
This handles multiple narrators expertly, with each one feeling very distinct from the others while obviously belonging to the same world. I love murder mystery stories, political wrangling, and precise language, and this is a beautiful blend of those things.
The world-building is fantastic and very well-handled, it felt so seamless as the various explanations felt so natural that I never felt like it was infodumping, though looking back there were some sections with more intense explanations than others. The few places which were purely informational spiels (I'm thinking of the two examinations of bodies) were some of my favorite sections because they conveyed so much about how the characters thought in addition to the purely informational elements of the scenes. Every character is complex with very different moral compasses from their fellow narrators, and while I do have my favorites, I can see how they got to where they are and why their methods are their own.
I want Abelard to have all the best things, he's my favorite. I like Tara and I'm very proud of how much she grows here. There's so much really good character development and growth all around, Cat's arc is great as well. I also wish there was a bit more of the vampire in this one, but I'll look out for him in the sequels (this didn't need more of him for its actual plot, I just love vampires).
CW for ableist language (minor), slavery, drug use, drug abuse, consent violations, vomit, blood, violence, body horror, medical content, child abuse (backstory), torture (not depicted), animal death, murder, child death (backstory), major character death, death.