Snake Agent

Liz Williams
Snake Agent Cover

Snake Agent


I wanted to like this book more than I did. I have been on a occult detective kick recently, and this seemed to fit the bill. Liz Williams' The Snake Agent is the first in a series about Inspector Chen, who is the detective in charge of supernatural crimes in the future city of Singapore 3. More specifically, he deals with crimes that originate from Hell because in this world the walls between Heaven, Earth (her term) and Hell are very thin. I believe that Williams uses Chinese mythology as a basis of this permability, but I am not very versed in Chinese mythology. I think she could have done a much better job of world-building if she had added more information gleened from Chinese myth and folklore. I am not convinced that she has a clear picture of this world.

Detective series, occult or otherwise, depend on the personality of the detective. Unfortunately, Chen is a flat character, absent of quirks or charisma. His only defining trait is that he is secretly married to a demon, who he saved from Hell in an adventure before the book begins. Yet, Williams never shows us these two characters together until the last few chapters of the book. The readers only believe that they love one another because she tells us so. In general, this is a problem with the whole book, there's lots of telling but not enough showing.

The beginning of the book seems as if it is not the first in the series because there's not enough set up for the world or the characters; however, by the end, I can see what Williams is trying to do by giving Chen a new partner. This partnership could be interesting; however, I am not intrigued enough to commit to the next book in the series.