In A Local Habitation, Toby is settling back in as one of her Duke’s knights. Things take a turn for the weird when her Duke sends her on what at first appears to be a check-up call on the Duke’s niece, but ends up being a murder mystery. Toby has to find out who is killing off the retinue of the Duke’s niece, and why, while keeping herself and her young assistant alive.
The book opens with Toby walking home (rather unsteadily) after a night out with the girls. The King of the Cats decides to walk her home, which causes her a certain amount of aggravation. (She and Tybalt, the King of the Cats are not on friendly terms, though he seems to end up helping her more often than not. They have a very strange relationship. They declare they hate each other, yet Tybalt seems to fuss at her to take care of herself when he is not insulting her. If this book were an anime or a manga I’d say Tybalt was being cast as a possible romantic lead. Of course, it is nearly impossible to judge what Tybalt might actually be thinking since he is a cat, and the narrative is first person from Toby’s point of view.)
The next morning while nursing a hangover, she ends up going on a mission to the nearby County of Tamed Lightning. The county is ruled by a January O’Leary, who is Duke Sylvester’s niece. The niece owns a company that produces computer games, and her county is a buffer between Duke Sylvester’s lands, and that of a rival duchy. Sylvester hasn’t heard from her in some time, but can’t visit her himself without creating a great deal of trouble for all concerned, so he sends Toby, along with a page, a teenaged Daoine Sidhe boy named Quentin.
When she arrives at the company, she is greeted by a combination of runaround and suspicion. She finds out that January has not been able to send messages back to her uncle, and that someone has been murdering January’s people. As a result, it takes them a while to believe that Toby is actually who she says she is. Toby in turn has a lot of problems working with tech and computer geeks since she is fourteen years behind the times and doesn’t even know what a mp3. player is. (There are some fairly funny moments as a result of her confusion.)
The mystery in this book felt more telegraphed than in the first book. I had an idea of who was responsible for the murders almost from the beginning. There are some interesting twists and turns, and a lot of action–this book was less about solving the mystery than it was about advancing other aspects of the plot of the series, with some very discreet info dumping. The book ends on a “tragic victory” sort of note, since they aren’t able to find the killer in time.
I enjoyed the book a great deal.