The Tainted Cup
Robert Jackson Bennett’s books always sound so intriguing. The Tainted Cup is the first I’ve read, and I’m so glad I did. His utterly original world and refreshing premise put me into an entirely new reality, and I enjoyed every second of it!
A Holmes and Watson–style detective duo take the stage in this fantasy with a mystery twist, from the Edgar-winning, multiple Hugo-nominated Robert Jackson Bennett
“Superbly blends mystery and fantasy . . . Give me more of this world and these characters ASAP!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Gardiner
In Daretana’s greatest mansion, a high imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree erupted from his body. Even here at the Empire’s borders, where contagions abound and the blood of the leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death both terrifying and impossible.
Assigned to investigate is Ana Dolabra, a detective whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities. Rumor has it that she wears a blindfold at all times, and that she can solve impossible cases without even stepping outside the walls of her home.
At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol, magically altered in ways that make him the perfect aide to Ana’s brilliance. Din is at turns scandalized, perplexed, and utterly infuriated by his new superior—but as the case unfolds and he watches Ana’s mind leap from one startling deduction to the next, he must admit that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.
As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect.
By an “endlessly inventive” (Vulture) author with a “wicked sense of humor” (NPR), The Tainted Cup mixes the charms of detective fiction with brilliant world-building to deliver a fiendishly clever mystery that’s at once instantly recognizable and thrillingly new.
Praise for The Tainted Cup
“Original, imaginative, and suspenseful, The Tainted Cup superbly blends mystery and fantasy in this vivid, complex novel. I couldn’t put it down. Give me more of this world and these characters ASAP!”—Meg Gardiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the UNSUB series
“Part Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, part Through the Looking-Glass, The Tainted Cup is one of the wildest, most original stories I’ve ever had the privilege to explore. I am in awe of Bennett’s creativity, the intricate plotting, and this immersive world filled with mushroom air conditioners, killer trees, and giant leviathans that stretch the imagination. I loved every second of it. This is a book that has planted roots in my head for the rest of my life.”—Wesley Chu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The War Arts Saga
“A riveting murder mystery wrapped in a twisty conspiracy, set in a vivid fantasy world terrorized by eldritch monsters . . . If you love unique, genre-bending, boundary-pushing fantasy as much as I do, look no further than Robert Jackson Bennett.”—Fonda Lee, World Fantasy Award–winning author of the Green Bone Saga
“I loved this. A twisty detective story, a weird fantasy, a thrilling adventure—The Tainted Cup is a masterstroke. I want Bennett to write a dozen of these, and send them to me yesterday.”—Max Gladstone, New York Times bestselling co-author of This Is How You Lose the Time War
“The Tainted Cup is a true fantasy mystery, with a leading duo who stand with Holmes and Watson among the greats. And Bennett sets it all in a squishy, fascinating, biopunk world I’m dying to find out more about. Bring on the next one!”—Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series
“A classic murder mystery set against dazzling world-building and sly social commentary. Robert Jackson Bennett doesn’t miss.”—James L. Sutter, author of Darkhearts
“Bennett . . . brilliantly melds genres in this exceptional mystery-fantasy. . . . The worldbuilding is immediately involving, Bennett’s take on a classic detective duo dynamic feels fresh and exciting, and the mystery itself twists and turns delightfully. Readers will be wowed.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Inspired by Nero Wolfe with a bit of Hannibal Lecter added to his prime investigator, Bennett . . . kicks off the Shadow of the Leviathan series, which will delight fans of fantasy-infused mysteries.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Sherlock Holmes meets Game of Thrones. . . . A rousing adventure for alt-fantasy fans.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Introduces readers to a conspiracy of murder and skullduggery as seen through the eyes of a naive junior investigator . . . Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and steampunk mystery and readers searching for magically engineered combinations of alchemy and corruption.”—Library Journal (starred review)