Tregillis, Ian -- The Coldest War

Second volume of the superheroes-vs-wizards trilogy. (I should say, supervillains-vs-demonologists.) It's now 1963, and history has gone very alternate. The Soviets grabbed most of Europe back in book 1 (WW1); they still have it. They also grabbed the Nazi superhero technology, and Britain's ageing warlocks are being assassinated one by one. Not the sort of Cold War which is good for a decades-long stalemate and peaceable shutdown.

(We also hear, offhandedly, that the Soviets grabbed Von Braun; cosmonauts are heading for the Moon. The US is busy with some kind of Civil War 2, in case you're curious.)

Our heroes' personal lives are going as badly as the global political situation. "Fortunately", these lives are all disrupted (once again) by Gretel, the scariest little supervillain -- not "Nazi supervillain", because she is clearly uninterested in anybody's agenda but her own. We finally start to see what that agenda is. (Knowing doesn't make us feel better.) We also figure out who Scarface was in the previous book. And everything goes well and truly to hell, with one teeny line of hope picked out of the strands of history by Gretel's precognitive talent.

The author is juggling many threads here. I found that I had to return to the first book and skim chapters to get a good picture. I appreciate this level of detail, but I would strongly recommend marathoning this series rather than spreading it out. Yes, I will probably buy book 3 immediately, rather than waiting for the paperback... if only to find out how much nasty crap the author can sling at the protagonists in the course of a nominally happy ending. Seriously: these are great books, but you have to get a kick out of despair.

Books I have acquired recently
All the books I own