The Poison Within (Inspector Skaer #1)

Author: Kasia Bacon

Publisher: Self

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Amazon

Type: Short Story

Received from Publisher


Blurb:  Black clouds of xenophobia gather over Radvadur, the western province of the Empire. The political climate is strained and fragile. A surge of Nymph refugees has stirred widespread hostility towards non-humans. When the investigation of a gruesome triple murder linked to the refugee camp ensues, it takes Inspector Käyru Skaer and his lover, Count Ellydhar Finn-Jánn, along an unusual path, at the end of which a precious gift awaits.

Käyru and Elly are worlds apart in social standing, but they have found common ground in the bedroom—up against the wall and the stable doors, too. The arrangement between them ought to have been temporary and of no consequence. As their circumstances change, will they find the courage to risk their hearts?

Warning: Contains mentions of off page sexual assault


Review:  Käyru Skaer knows he’s deeply in love with Elly, the Count of Radvadur. Käyru is also pretty sure Elly has serious health problems. Unfortunately Käyru is called out of bed to investigate a murder. A rather grisly murder. As soon as Käyru finds out it’s no longer his crime to solve he solves it. Solving the crime is one thing, but the situation still has to be resolved, and Elly still has serious health problems.

I tend to avoid short stories as they’re usually not that great. I was pleasantly surprised. This is a well contained story. There was world building, character development, and a resolution to the murder mystery. And it all fit and felt like it was in the right place and wasn’t extraneous. The downside is this book isn’t overly nuanced. Most characters are little more than archetypes at this point and the reader’s understanding of the story is directly related to how well they’re informed of current geopolitical events. Some characters are immediately sympathetic because we feel sympathy for their real life counterparts. The danger of that is our political opinions will greatly impact our opinions of the characters and their actions. Part of me feels this is a brilliant way to have immediate understanding of a story while the other part of me feels this was cheating. Either way, I liked the story.

There is one important thing left hanging over Käyru. I don’t want to spoiler, but it’s a fairly common trope concerning consent. I want to see how this is handled before I pass any kind of judgment.

This is a solid first story in a serial, and I’m interested in where this is going. This story is very much social commentary and makes no bones about it, however there is more here than just social commentary. Käyru and Elly have a lot they’re going to have to work through and deal with before they can have any semblance of a happily ever after. I want to know how they’re going to do it.

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