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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



Hooked on Katla

Peccadillo: A Katla Novel - Martyn V. Halm

This is an addictive series. I think a reader would do well to start his or her habit with the first book, Reprobate. With some series , you can jump in at any point and it doesn’t matter, but with this one, the author has made a good choice not to slow down a thriller with backstory. You could follow the plot without having read the first book, but in this second Amsterdam Assassin book, the characters and relationships develop in depth. A reader will appreciate this more having read the first book. Events and characters in Reprobate are essential to making Peccadillo a full experience. 


Like Reprobate, this book lives in the black spot in the white curve of the yin yang symbol, and the white spot in its dark side, the essence of the story spinning in the whole. There are no wholly good or wholly bad people. Everyone is flawed, and most have done something that a person with a conscience would struggle to process. Some have consciences, some don’t.


Halm writes fight scenes with grace and precision, finely choreographed and biomechanically accurate. There’s a fine balance in this tale between violence, and friendship and love. I said this about Reprobate —it feels Japanese to me, with delicate attention to domestic and intimate details like the Tale of Genji and swordplay like a samurai movie.


The main characters, Katla and Bram, are quite unlike the rest of us in many ways: Katla’s homicidal occupation, of course,  and  her physical strength and her intelligence; and Bram’s martial arts skill and his extraordinary self-discipline. This makes them intriguing and special. Halm writes Bram’s point of view in a manner that makes the reader experience the character’s blindness. People like Bram’s friend and guide Zeph give balance to the story—characters readers can relate to more easily while following the story of the protagonists. The wit in some of the dialog is great and the ordinariness of criminals is well portrayed. They are not that different from the rest of us. In some ways.


I found few flaws in this book.  On rare occasions the dialog feels like an author intrusion, but that’s minor. There are a few rough spots in the writing—again, minor. The plot is strong and the characters compelling.