Book Review 2009 #57: The Shadow Pavilion

The Shadow Pavilion: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel
is the fourth in Liz Williams Inspector Chen series.


Inspector Chen has been to Hell, dealt with a misguided invasion of Hell by Heaven, corporate takeovers in Hell, and even overseen the ascension of a new Emperor of Heaven.
What does “Snake Agent” Inspector Chen, his demon wife, his demon senechal partner (and new fiance!) and other allies do next?
Well, would you believe get caught in the machinations of demonesses and a demigod from a different Hell (a Hindu one!) as well as deal with an assassination attempt on the (new) Emperor of Heaven himself?
Shadow Pavilion is the fourth novel in Liz Williams’ Inspector Chen series. Set in the early 21st century in the Chinese city Singapore Three, where the divine, demonic and real life intersect in very real ways. Not very assessable to those new to the series, Shadow Pavilion continues to expand the playground. While we have had hints there are other heavens and hells in the previous novels, but in Shadow Pavilion we not only meet denizens from them, but we actually have the characters travel to them. Williams does an excellent job making these new realms distinctly different than the bureaucratic-mad Chinese Hell, and the change in venue makes for an interesting contrast.
I enjoyed this volume in the series overall, as always. Inspector Chen and his world are clearly subjects that Ms. Williams has found a niche in writing in, and I look forward to subsequent novels.
My only complaint with this novel is its length. While the other novels are approximately the same short length, in this case, it feels like Williams was writing a bit to that length, rather than to the end point of a story. The pacing felt just a little bit off to me. This is not a serious flaw, but it is a noticeable one.
Recommended to fans of the series. For others, I suggest trying out Snake Agent to see if you like Williams brand of modern Chinese supernatural urban fantasy.