cover image Steeplejack


A.J. Hartley. Tor Teen, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8342-6

Racial tensions and class strife provide the underlying conflict in this tense mystery, first in the Alternate Detective series, set in an industrialized fantasy city reminiscent of Victorian-era South Africa. Sixteen-year-old Ang Sutonga works as a “steeplejack,” cleaning and maintaining Bar-Selehm’s many towers and spires. When her new apprentice is murdered, no one seems to care. Then a secret government organization hires Ang to find the killer, believing the death is linked to more important matters, such as the theft of the city’s fabled Beacon—an impossibly valuable piece of luxorite, the glowing mineral that forms the backbone of the city’s economy. As Ang delves into the mystery, she discovers treachery, danger, and evidence of a far-reaching conspiracy that could throw the region into chaos. Hartley’s (the Darwen Arkwright series) story is a thought-provoking blend of action and intrigue, with a competent and ethical heroine in Ang and a fully imagined setting whose atmosphere and cultural cues also play important roles. The result is an unforgettable page-turner built on surprises and full of potential. Ages 13–up. Agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (June)