The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett

February 1st, 2024 Kimberly Review 6 Comments

1st Feb

Narrated by Andrew Fallaize, The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett blends fantasy with a murder-mystery detective case that pulled me in and never let go. The first in the Shadow of the Leviathan series, I cannot wait for more adventures with Ana Dolabra and Dinios “Din” Kol. You’ll want to add this first in trilogy to your audio library.

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Tainted Cup
by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Shadow of the Leviathan #1
Narrator: Andrew Fallaize
Length: 13 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.5x

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.

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.

fantasy MURDERMYSTERY SUSPENSE well written

The blurbs “A Holmes and Watson-style detective duo take the stage in this fantasy with a mystery twist,” drew me and had me downloading The Tainted Cup. I was not disappointed! From the world to the characters, Bennett pulled me in and never let go.

The story takes place in an alternate world filled with magic and enhanced humans. When a high imperial officer ends up dead in the Empire, Ana Dolabra, an eccentric detective with an excellent solve record, is assigned to the case. Dinios “Din” Kol, a magically altered assistant, goes out and meticulously investigates the crime scene before reporting back to Ana.

I will leave you to learn more about Ana and Din. I enjoyed both of them and thought they made the perfect team. Ana is very much like Sherlock and Din, her Watson. We learn much about Ana and Din through Din’s observations. I enjoyed his voice and thought process as we found ourselves in dangerous situations.

The world is interesting from the walled off areas of the Empire to the Leviathan, who both enhance them and pose a threat. Power plays and twists kept me on edge. The story felt tight and flowed well with smooth world-building. Suspense, fear of discovery and attempts at stopping them were well done.

While the murder-mystery case was solved, there is much to learn! I look forward to more cases with this duo. I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by Andrew Fallaize. He did such a great job of capturing the voice of Din, Ana, and other characters. I hope he continues with the series.

If you are looking for a thrilling mystery and adventurous fantasy, you’ll want to grab The Tainted Cup.

Amazon | Audible

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards.

About Andrew Fallaize

Andrew Fallaize

Andrew Fallaize is a New York-based British actor and voice-over artist. In the UK, he appeared regularly on BBC Radio 3 and 4 with recordings of fiction and nonfiction. His work also includes numerous commercial voice-overs for leading brands and companies.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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6 Responses to “The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett”

  1. Katherine

    This is the second really great review I’ve seen for this book and I think that’s a sign I need to get it! I love the mix of mystery and fantasy and that cover really caught my eye.

  2. Sophia Rose

    I was captivated by this one, too. They were a splendid team, the world is really cool, and I can’t wait to see what comes next for them.