• The Last Smile in Sunder City

  • Fetch Phillips, Book 1
  • By: Luke Arnold
  • Narrated by: Luke Arnold
  • Length: 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a brilliantly voiced contemporary fantasy for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Rotherweird or Terry Pratchett's Discworld, and the debut novel from high-profile actor Luke Arnold.   

Fetch Phillips fought on the wrong side of a war between humans and magical creatures, and his actions helped to drain the world of enchantment. Now he works on the streets of Sunder City, taking what odd jobs he can while trying to help those whose lives he ruined.  

His first case is to find a missing teacher. Professor Rye is a 400-year-old vampire with a heart of gold in a husk of a body. In a world without magic, most vamps have already crumbled into dust, but Fetch is happy to go looking for some dirt with pointed teeth if it gets him his drinking money. Then, when a young siren disappears, Fetch finds out that this dark world still hides some monsters - and he'd better clean up his act before they come into the light.

©2019 Luke Arnold (P)2019 Hachette Audio UK

What listeners say about The Last Smile in Sunder City

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent start for a novel writer

Initially got into it because of Black Sails and my love for Luke Arnold, but right off the bat the book got me hooked. Great world-building, engaging story and a really smooth writing filled with creative metaphors and eye(or ear!)-opening comparisons. I definitely recommend to any lover of fantastic literature!

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So engaging it was bewitching.

The 5 stars are all well deserved, because this was a brilliantly written debut novel.

Actor Luke Arnold is more known for his role as Long John Silver in the STARZ series Black Sails (which is amazing and you should go binge it right now if you haven't yet), and I had no idea he was such a good writer as well. He claims he's always loved writing, but stopped for a few years. Well I am so glad he picked that pen (or keyboard) back up!

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a fantasy thriller with an amazing noir atmosphere, with lovable and immensely flawed characters. It's their flaws that keep you locked to the book, transporting you right to the dusty old roads of Sunder with detective Fetch Phillips: his painkiller addiction is as vivid as your need to know what happened to old, decrepit vampire Professor Edmund Rye. And when stories from the present start weaving with ghosts from the past, and you meet Amarita, Hendricks, and all the colorful characters that made Fetch who he is today, then you already know you're hooked.

The audiobook makes it even better, even if you're not audiobook people (I personally am not, but I just had to give it a shot): Arnold's incredible acting skills give life to the characters to the point of making you forget he's the one voicing them all. And I already can't wait for the second installment of this new incredible series out in October.

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  • Heather
  • 03-09-21

A fantastic cross between Sam Spade and the X Men

I usually like to read books that mix fantasy with the everyday and a good dollop of humour, like the Inspector Hobbes Series and anything by Heidi Goody and Ian Grant, so I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but the story soon pulled me in and I kept wanting to listen to find out what happened next. The story was an inventive twist on the theme of vampires, werewolves etc, combined with a main character who was more a Sam Spade type. It shouldn't have worked, but it does! The whole set up is entirely believable and the book, while reaching a conclusion of sorts, doesn't go for the nice neat tidy ending but the sort of messy ending you find in everyday life, only with vampires!
And as for the narration, that's superb. I love the contrast between the hard gumshoe American type accent of the main character and the more western accents of the other characters. It could come across as clunky or forced, but it doesn't. It actually skilfully reinforces the otherness of the main character and gives the story an extra vibrancy. I'm currently listening to the second book in the series, and so far I'm enjoying it as much as and possibly even more so than the first.
Highly recommended!

17 people found this helpful

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  • Jumpin' Bean
  • 02-05-20

Terrific

Oh what a luscious turn of phrase Mr Arnold has. Perfect scenes evoked with a word sketch.
And my, also a very talented actor/narrator. If not the best, certainly one of the best author narrators I have come across.
An engaging lead character, with his bag of angst and woes, interacts well with other residents of his world. Conversations you believe, that reveal the person and take the story forward.
If I was being super-picky, I would say that during the middle of the story I was a bit muddled. Also, although there were some very droll moments the overall feel was just the teensiest bit, gloomy. I guess that would be all the angsts making their presence felt.
So happy I gave it a shot. I do hope there are more to come.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Shoppa
  • 10-23-20

If you like Dresden you’ll probably like Fetch

Amazing 1st book & intro to a new, flawed hero in a magical world. I enjoyed every minute of this story and the narration by the author was just perfect. So much interwoven, intricate background to set the scene but I never felt as though the essential ‘back story’ stuff took over as it does with many new series.

I’m an avid Dresden fan but this is actually a stronger first novel than in that series. Time will obviously tell if in subsequent books the life journey Fetch goes on will be as amazing, affirming, adventurous, fun and as full of personal growth as Harry’s.

So many intriguing, three dimensional characters and settings were introduced to explain the basics of Fetch’s origin story that the potential for future interactions and story development are quite exciting. The book leaves the reader desperately wanting to know answers to mysteries that were necessarily left hanging. I really like how the protagonist appears to be just as in the dark about many of these mysteries as we are.

My fingers are crossed that 10 Fetch books down the line I will be as invested in him, and his supporting cast of characters, as I am with Dresden’s.

In one book Luke Arnold has created a brilliantly written new potential anti-hero, a fascinating world of myth and magic and a tragic but extremely original back story. There are infinite possibilities. If he can keep the momentum going I’m definitely along for the ride.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. K. Marie
  • 05-07-21

excellent and emotive!

I had originally bought the audio to listen to on my commute, but with the pandemic decided to buy the book also - but after one listen to the audio, I couldn't stop because it was just so well read and I was gripped. I just kept making up chores so I could listen to it! A really original and interesting take on the noir world with engaging and likeable leads. Each character was richly developed no matter how short their appearance. really hope this becomes a long series! As for the reading, it's one of the best I've heard so far on audible, Arnold's ability to become so many different people without it being too stark and noticeable is inspired! A definite rec here!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Andre
  • 01-28-21

Love the concept and the book

For me if you enjoy Dresden files, Ben aaronoovitch, then this by Luke Arnold stands as well tall. The author even does an incredible job as a narrator. For me a must read.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rowan Daly
  • 02-23-20

A new highlight for Science Fiction and Fantasy

The maturity level of the writing in this book far surpasses what I would expect from a debut title. I truly hope there will be more books written in this world from Luke. What a success! Gripping from the first chapter. a new interpretation of familiar concepts. A bold new setting and daring lead character. I am consumed with curiosity to know more!

3 people found this helpful

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  • The Curator
  • 07-18-21

Raymond Chandler meets the vampires

I nearly missed out on this because generally I don’t listen to books read by the author. I’ve heard and some horrors and if they’re too vain or cheap to hire a professional then I don’t see why I should suffer. After a few minutes confusion at how good he was, I googled and found out the author is also an actor so my theory still holds! Anyway, it would have been a great loss if I hadn’t bought it because this Sam Spade in magicville tale is really great. It has a loser detective on the outs with everyone, vampish women (pun absolutely intended) and a librarian barmaid. Looking forward to more.

2 people found this helpful

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  • kevin
  • 04-03-21

enjoyed this book

enjoyed it looking forward to hearing more the story was a little strange at first till I got some context from his flashbacks

2 people found this helpful

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  • Laura Catherine Bennett
  • 03-09-21

Great fantasy detective noir

Loved it. Will definitely listen to the sequel, great story and brilliantly read by the author

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anita Kelen
  • 09-02-22

Quickly became one of my favorite series

I listened to this book twice now. The story is great, the world-building is interesting, and what really puts the cherry on top is Luke Arnold reading it and giving all his characters amazing, distinct voices.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-06-21

A pleasant surprise!

Luke Arnold dose himself proud as both author and performer.
I usually steer clear of audio books, particularly fiction, performed by their authors. In my experience they generally showcase the writers over estimation of their skills as a narrator, the narrators over estimation of their skills as an author or, all too often, both.
This is one of the occasional refreshing exceptions to that pattern.
What we have here is a playful salmagundi of genres, engaging characters and an author who has fun with language.
All presented by a genuinely talented voice actor.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-14-22

Unexpectedly amazing!

I loved Black Sails so when I saw Luke Arnold had written a debut novel that was described as a mix of discworld meets rivers of London (both fantastic series) I was cautiously intrigued. I didn't know what to expect of him, and was mostly just curious to hear how well his acting translated into an audio medium.
I tried to temper my expectations, but I admit the novel sounded interesting and I was excited. Every expectation was exceeded!! What a fantastic debut! I'd describe it more as Raymond chandler meets discworld in the most fantastic possible way. Such delicious hard-boiled, grungy fantasy, the simile laden prose was a delight to devour, and the protagonist a guilt-ridden, jaded and alcoholic gumshoe who surprisingly not exhausting in his self-loathing. Fetch has committed his Sins and was punishing himself accordingly, but he's is far from perfect and that makes him such a well developed, unexpectedly kind, yet also unapologetically selfish protagonist I can wait to watch develop and grow as I eagerly follow him on his next adventures. Every character introduced was so interesting and piqued my immediate curiosity and I couldn't wait to hear more. The tone was gritty but light and funny when it needed to be, I was holding in snickers in bed!
I can't leave a review without raving about Arnold's incredible narration. What amazing range he has - which of course he should, he's an incredible actor - but I hope he feels proud of just how brilliantly he has brought his world to life. Every character sounded so different and amazing, it felt like an ensemble of voice actors. I'm blown away that Arnold is not only an accomplished actor, but his first novel can also be this excitingly fresh, well developed, and fully realised, PLUS his narration was possible the best I've ever listened to. Feels like too much power for one man.
In any event I am now an eager devotee of Fetch's antics yet to come. So very delighted to know I have two more novels ready for me dive right into.

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  • Brett
  • 06-18-22

Surprisingly Good

Took me completely by surprise. I was expecting a 6 out of 10 to wittle a few hours a way whilst at work but its a solid 8 maybe 9.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-02-22

Great!

Loved it and Luke has a very soothing voice. He does good character voices. 👏

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • N. Hill
  • 03-03-22

Fantasypunk meets Dresden Files

This was a cool concept and well executed. It had a similar feel to the Dresden Files but also a steampunk? fantasypunk? feel to it. I’ll probably pick up the next book in the series.

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  • Naomi
  • 11-03-21

Loved it! Funny & Clever.

I enjoyed the fantastical world the writer created, the gritty characters and the fantasy crime story. The writers’ performance in the reading was exactly what it needed, and reminded me of noir style Bogart movies. The descriptions are very clever & often hilarious. Well worth it. I’m off to read the next one now.

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  • Jacanne13
  • 05-29-21

Fantastic book

narrator was fantastic
fantastic book and great story
could not stop listening to this book

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Claire
  • 04-02-21

Hard boiled PI in a world that destroyed magic

This book is great for lovers of film noire or scifi and detective stories. I loved the performance. it is read by the author his range of voice acting is broad- at times i didn't believe it was the one voice.

the content on the book is interesting and engaging. As with all good scifi the narrative themes are the real meat. tgemes i enjoyed the most were:
The stories or narrative we tell about ourselves and how they define us to ourselves, to others, how they sculpt our actions and in this case change the world.
How change drives us to seek a future... how the past is often a thing if great longing which can block out the importance of the present.

I took a star away for the story itself because there were moments that seemed a bit slow and I worried the plot wouldn't hold together. on reflection that's probably a feature of the struggle of hard boiled decetective genre.

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  • Greta
  • 02-11-21

Fantastic new author

I loved this book and the narrator. They are a perfect fit, and it is a great reimagining of post apocalyptic word. I really love that it is really close to the date of the disaster. So so good

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  • Carl Haynes
  • 11-17-20

A new sub genre brilliantly voiced by the author

With this I believe Luke (the author) has invented a new sub genre of a fantasy world that has gone through a apocalypse and lost its magic. The complete reverse of all the post apocalyptic fantasy I have seen where our world goes through an apocalyptic event and gains magic.

2ndly authors reading their own work normally bring something extra to a performance. Luke does this in spades.

Finally the essentially detective storey is well deployed and provides a great vehicle to navigate the world and never feels forced.

Highly recommended, I am buying the next one