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Publisher's Summary

"Secret societies, immortality, murder mysteries and Las Vegas all in one book? Shut up and take my money." (John Scalzi on The Incrementalists)

The Incrementalists are a secret society of 200 people - an unbroken lineage reaching back 40 thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else's, has been shot dead. They'll bring him back - but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil's previous lives, in "Bleeding Kansas" in the late 1850s - and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.

Steven Brust and Skyler White's The Skill of Our Hands is the thrilling and thought-provoking follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Incrementalists.

©2017 Steven Brust and Skyler White (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Warning: Pedantic Review Ahead

I assume that checking the pronunciation of proper names is part of a narrator’s job. If so, there are some glaring failures here. Ina Road in Tucson is pronounced Ay-nah not Ee-nah. Gila Bend is pronounced Hee-lah Bend not Gee-lah Bend. Don’t get me started on the inconsistent and caricatured accents given to hispanic characters. (In Incrementalists narrator also blew pronunciation of poker legend Mike Matusow. These are not hard things to check and break the flow of story telling.)

As for content, there are several tell tale signs that White and Brust have not spent any time living in Phoenix or Tucson. In Incrementalists, Phil asks Ren if she’s ever heard of Gila River casino. She hasn’t. It is impossible to spend a weekend in Phoenix (let alone live in Phoenix) without being inundated with ads (tv, radio, billboards) for Gila River. Ren is supposed to be a businesswoman and influencer living in Phoenix, but she hasn’t heard of a tribe and casino that are prominent players in local business, community, charity, and politics. She hasn’t heard of the named sponsor of the arena where the NBA’s Phoenix Suns play. That’s just silly.

In Skill of Our Hands, members of the group frequently refer to the Phoenix Police Department when they clearly mean Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). This is not a trivial distinction. There is a huge difference between Phoenix PD and MCSO. This is a difference that members of the Incrementalists should and would understand given their mission and supposed expertise. Mixing them up is just sloppy. Also, who passes up a neighborhood Mexican food joint to get tamales at Hotel Congress? Nobody.

I know this is a terribly pedantic review, but turn about is fair play. I am a fan of Brust. I was disappointed by this audiobook.

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  • Sean Daly
  • 04-19-18

Further down the rabbit hole

Don’t confuse the frequent use of metaphor or idea’s for over complication. This is a great psy-fi story that will bend your mind but carries a huge amount of weight in its arguments about ethics, morality and the crazy grey area we live in between the black and white. I think this was possibly even better than the first book.