Wicked Gentlemen takes the form of two novellas. The first - Mr. Sykes and the Firefly - is told from the (first person) point of view of Belimai Sykes. Belimai is a Prodigal, a descendent of demons. A drug addict and investigator who is hired by Captain Harper (an Inquisitor) to help in the investigation of several murders.
The second novella - Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle - virtually carries on from where the first leaves off, but is told in third person point of view mainly from Captain Harper's perspective. And I love how little incidents from the first novella, haven't been forgotten in the second.
It would initially seem that these men have nothing in common with each other. Essentially they are on opposite sides of the law, and it would also appear that their beliefs and values are polar opposites. However, despite this, a relationship develops between the pair, and throughout the course of the two novellas they learn to trust each other when all their other beliefs and desires fall away. Belimai is not so far gone that he won't reach out for hope, and Harper isn't quite the perfect Inquisitor he first appears.
Belimai is one of the most intriguing and fascinating characters I have read about in a long time. He's been tortured by the Inquisition, left a drug addict and has an almost palpable air of melancholy. He knows himself well.
I am not a good person. I am naturally inclined to lie. Even my mother had thought so.But is also possible to see yourself too clearly and be blinded.
From the moment Belimai and Captain Harper meet there is a chemistry between the two of them. The love scenes when they take place on page are brief but beautifully written. Rather it is when the two of them are talking or verbally sparring together that you experience the attraction between them.
"Are you still drunk from last night?" I asked.
"No." Harper smiled. "Having my life threatened always makes me a little giddy."
"I have to find my pleasures where I can."
Although I enjoyed both stories almost(!) equally well. I think the first story I liked slightly more. Maybe it's the metaphor of the firefly at the beginning and how that plays through the story. And how we come to understand what's happened to Joan. Also I have a fondness for stories where on a second read through you get something completely different out of the book, because of how your perceptions have changed knowing what's going to happen. Saying that the experiences between Belimai and Harper in the second novella are almost more enjoyable because they know each other so much better. Hmmm. Tough call.
I picked up Wicked Gentlemen after reading several reviews - some on reader blogs, one I think on Dear Author. And I was still slightly preparing myself in case I was disappointed. Instead I've read a book which I know I'll be able to read again and again, and each time be drawn back into the dark world of the Prodigals and the Inquisition. At the end of the two stories, they are complete, you feel satisfied. But I would be more than happy to read more about Belimai, Harper and their friends again, so I hope there are more stories to come.