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Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen Novels) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – Januar 2008


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Synopsis

John Constantine meets Chow Yun-Fat in this near-future occult thriller! Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department's snake agent - that is - the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations. Chen has several problems: In addition to colleagues who don't trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended, and a demonic wife who's tired of staying home alone, he's been paired with one of Hell's own vice officers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls. Political pressures both Earthly and otherworldly seek to block their investigations at every turn. As a plot involving both Singapore Three's industrial elite and Hell's own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.

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24 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Multiple genre? 11. Januar 2006
Von H. Keller - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Is it horror? Is it mystery? Is it science fiction?

Yes.

Most of the fiction I read that features demons and the spawn of hell are usually blown apart my Space Marines or the Imperial Guard in the Warhammer 40,000 SF series. That having been noted, once I started Liz Williams' Snake Agent, it was "put off the chores" until I was done.

She effectively melds an interesting mystery story with a backdrop that includes an alternate super-high-tech Earth and the regions of Hell. The Publisher's Weekly review notes there is a hint of Charlie Chan. Nope. More like Peter Lorre's interpretation of Mr. Moto. Inspector Wei Chen doesn't just stand in a room and detect clues, he is action oriented and goes where he needs to be to get the job done - whether that might be a sewer line or the Ministry of Diseases in Hell.

Williams also weaves in interesting background that leaves you wanting more, and rosters a cost of supporting characters that rivals the best in series fiction.

I can't wait for the sequel - and I'm not a fantasy fan!
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Clever and absorbing novel combining Chinese fantasy, SF, and detective fiction 20. Mai 2006
Von Richard R. Horton - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This seems a bit of a change of pace from Liz Williams's well-received earlier novels, such as The Poison Master and Banner of Souls. The tone is a bit lighter, the setup simply more playful -- which isn't to say that the book is comic or without darker moments. And it isn't to say that Snake Agent isn't enjoyable -- indeed, it is a fine, clever, absorbing novel.

It is subtitled "A Zhu Irzh & Inspector Chen Novel", suggesting the possibility of a series. And I have seen a couple of short stories set in the same milieu, including one ("Adventures in the Ghost Trade", Interzone, April 2000) from which the current novel is expanded. The setting is a curious combination of near future SF with Chinese-based fantasy. It might be called an "Alternate History Fantasy set in the Future", by which I mean that it takes for granted a world much resembling ours in which certain fantastical aspects are true, extrapolated into the near future. The location is a new city called Singapore Three, somewhere in South China. Inspector Chen is a policeman assigned to cases involving Hell -- cases where demons have intruded into our world, or the dead have ended up in the wrong place, or humans are engaged in illegal transactions with the underworld. He is uniquely suited to this duty: he has been granted the protection of a goddess, Kuan Yin, for his occasional trips to Hell, and he also has a domestic secret: his wife is a demon.

The story opens with an investigation into a recently deceased young woman, the daughter of a rich man, who seems to have gone to Hell by mistake. Or so her mother says. But before long Chen's investigation bumps into some political roadblocks. It seems highly place interests, in both worlds, are involved in something unsavory. And indeed, down in Hell, Seneschal Zhu Irzh is investigating a case of the souls of virtuous young human girls being taken to Hell for use as prostitutes. Before long, he and Chen meet and realize that their cases are connected. But Irzh, too, finds that political interests in Hell are impeding his investigation. And, finally, Inspector Chen's wife, Inari, is being chased, presumably by the vindictive family of the demon she had refused to marry before escaping to Earth.

This central mystery develops quite satisfyingly, leading to a resolution that is effective enough, if perhaps just slightly too rapid and too pat. Both Inspector Chen and his infernal counterpart, Irzh, are engaging characters, reflecting their different origins nicely. Irzh in particular is an amusing creation, for the most part a conventional demon but with urges toward compassion and other virtues that he tries to suppress. Williams's description of Hell is also fun and nicely cynical -- especially its rival Ministries: Wealth, War, Epidemics, etc.

This isn't a major work, but it is an enjoyable novel with interesting protagonists. I would be delighted to see further stories about the same pair of detectives: I think the setup quite fruitful, and the lead pair interesting enough to follow for some time.
9 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Genre-rama 2. November 2006
Von lb136 - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
In "Snake Agent," the ever-clever Liz Williams concocts a tongue in cheek brew combining the police procedural, the horror tale, fantasy, and science fiction. Set in an alternate Earth that seems to be a few years beyond our present, it features Singapore 3's (don't ask what happened to Singapore 1 and 2) Detective Inspector Chen, the police inspector involved with the supernatural--the snake agent of the title. (This is the first of a series, but it's complete in itself.)

His current case leads him to hell, where he teams up with Hell's Seneschal Zhu Irzh in order to thwart a vast conspiracy involving one of Hell's many bureaus. Ms. Williams has serious issues with bureaus and the 'crats who run them (she's shown this before in an earlier novel, "Empire of Bones"), a fact that figures prominently in this novel's clever plot.

Wittily written (the characters often speak in phrases that evoke Jack Vance's--hardly a bad thing), cleverly plotted, the book's a total delight.
8 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
welcome new series 22. September 2006
Von Carl V. Anderson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Take a healthy dose of mythology and eastern religion, mix in the humor of Big Trouble in Little China and the buddy-cop banter of Lethal Weapon and adorn with a fantastic Jon Foster cover and what do you get? Well, you get the beginnings of an entertaining new mystery series by author Liz Williams.

The Snake Agent is a difficult book to categorize. A blurb from the publisher's website reads:

John Constantine meets Chow Yun-Fat in this near-future occult thriller. Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department's snake agent, in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations.

Chen has several problems: In addition to colleagues who don't trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended, and a demonic wife who's tired of staying home alone, he's been paired with one of Hell's own vice officers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls.

Political pressures both earthly and otherworldly seem to block their investigation at every turn. As a plot involving Singapore Three's industrial elite and Hell's own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.

"Constantine meets Chow Yun-Fat" is a tremendously accurate description of Liz Williams' protagonist, Detective Inspector Wei Chen. I recently re-watched The Replacement Killers and I could not help picturing Chow Yun-Fat as Wei Chen's adventures unfolded before me. If ever filmed he would be the perfect choice.

I said that William's novel is hard to classify and it is. The story abounds with magic as does a typical fantasy novel. It is a mystery, set in a near future science fiction universe replete with technology that would be at home in a story by Phillip K. Dick. It is also a primer for eastern mysticism and a view of earth, heaven, and hell steeped in ancient mythology. In addition there are elements of horror reminiscient of the aforementioned John Constantine and a wry humor similar to that in the very best cult classic comedies.

Having so many varied influences in the wrong hands could result in a mess of a story. Fortunately Liz Williams crafts her tale with deft hands making The Snake Agent a fun introduction to this series of detective novels. It is easy to see why she has been twice nominated for Phillip K. Dick awards. The Snake Agent unfolds at just the right pace to keep one engaged in the story without ever overwhelming the reader. There is a lot going on with the genre-mixing plot but the reader never feels lost.

At its core The Snake Agent is just pure fun. The best thing about the novel is the characters and their relationships. Wei Chen is a mortal man married to Inari, an denizen of the Underworld whom he rescued from an unwanted marriage. Inari has a protective animal companion that masquerades as a tea pot in earthly realms. On earth Chen has a law enforcement partner who is a perfect combination of Reginald VelJohnson's character in Die Hard and Danny Glover's in Lethal Weapon. Of course the nether realms have their own enforcement agencies and so Chen's counterpart, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, figures prominently in the tale as well. There is nothing better than a science fiction/fantasy tale flavored with chivalrous romance and solid friendships.

If you are a fan of any of the above mentioned films I would venture to say that you will enjoy Liz William's debut novel in the Detective Inspector Chen series. As of this writing the second novel in the series, The Demon and the City, is nearing release and I really look forward to rejoining Wei Chen in his investigative adventures. Funny, adventurous, scary and magical, The Snake Agent is a great opportunity to try something a little different in your reading. I tip my hat to you Ms. Williams. Well done.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A fantastic story! 24. März 2006
Von D. Olson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
This is the first Liz Williams book I read, after buying it direct from Night Shade books (the publisher). I disagree with one of the other reviews in comparing this to Gaiman's Neverwhere. In some ways it's closer to Simon Green's "Nightside" series crossed with Barry Hughart's Master Li novels.

In a future, very high-tech Earth, Inspector Chen of the supernatural affairs specialist of the Singapore 3 police department. But in addition to high-tech, this is very much a world of the supernatural as well where heaven and hell are in the mode of the Chinese Celestial Bureaucracy. When he gets involved in a case of a little girl's soul not ending up in Heaven where it was supposed to, but ending up in Hell instead, things began to get complicated. "Ghost smuggling", real-world politics, a wife who isn't what she seems, a demonic partner, and bureaucratic strife among Hell's Ministry of Disease and Ministry of Taxation all combine to generate a fascinating story.

I can't recommend this book enough, and the upcoming sequel looks very interesting as well.
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