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Johannes Cabal the Detective Hardcover – July 13, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



"Johannes Cabal would kill me for saying this, but he's my favorite Zeppelin-hopping detective. The fellow has got all the charm of Bond and the smarts of Holmes -- without the pesky morality. Seriously though, don't tell Cabal I so much as mentioned his name."
-- Daniel H. Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising and the forthcoming Robopacolypse
 “Is there life beyond death? Definitely! That is, if Johannes Cabal is on your side…The mysteries of past and future--science fiction and the occult, Jules Verne and Robert Anton Wilson--are all wrapped up in Jonathan L.  Howard's  fast-paced escapade of esoteric adventure.”
 -- Katherine Neville, New York Times bestselling author of The Eight and The Fire

"Cabal, the detective and necromancer, is full of charismatic amorality, making him both a classical, and refreshing antihero." -- TimeOut

“Not only does Howard deliver a devilish mystery but he also wraps it all up in a gorgeous ‘steampunk noir’ atmosphere that had me slowing down, every now and then, to enjoy either skulking in various European alleyways or flying high above them in the ‘latest flying machine’.” --Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review

"Definitely entertaining, a cut above many books out there." --Free Lance-Star

"JOHANNES CABAL THE DETECTIVE is simply fun...The characters and their situations are fresh, their turns unexpected. The work gives nods to many of the tropes of detective fiction...The result is a delight." -- The Denver Post


“Jonathan Howard has written a delightfully wicked and inventive story on the game of beat the devil. He turns conventions of the Faustian tales into a modern carnivalesque that is witty, macabre, and unexpectedly touching. If you like the dead to have a little life in them yet, Johannes Cabal, the Necromancer is the kind of book you'll die for.”
-- Keith Donohue, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child

“That ole black magic has never been more fun than it is in this deft and quirky Faustian tale, and the voice is fittingly sardonic as in ‘sour juices dripping from crushed hopes.’ Johannes Cabal may be soulless, but he's also cocky, darkly hilarious, and cheerfully irreverent. A diabolical romp.”
-- Elle Newmark, author of The Book of Unholy Mischief

“For anyone whose taste edges towards the intelligent and macabre, this book is a gift . . . a Lemony Snicket for adults.”
-- Linda Marotta, Fangoria

About the Author

JONATHAN L. HOWARD is a game designer who notably co-scripted the first three Broken Sword adventure games. He is the author of the novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer. He lives near Bristol, England, with his wife and daughter.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (July 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385528094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385528092
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan L. Howard is a game designer and BAFTA nominated scriptwriter of some twenty years experience.

He's been a novelist since 2009, débuting with the darkly humorous "Johannes Cabal the Necromancer." Since then the sequels "Johannes Cabal the Detective" (2010), "Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute" (2011), and "The Brothers Cabal" (2014) have also seen print. A new Cabal novel is set for publication in late 2016.

The first novel of his Russalka Chronicles trilogy, "Katya's World," a YA science fiction story that takes place on the dangerous and unforgiving ocean-covered world of Russalka, was published in 2012, the first sequel, "Katya's War," following in 2013.

2014 saw the beginning of the "Goon Squad" project, an ongoing story of mismatched superheroes, published in episodes.

His new series of modern horror novels begins with "Carter & Lovecraft," due for publication in October 2015.

Jonathan L. Howard lives with his family in the English West Country.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer was an amazing novel, and this one is a fantastic second in the series. Everything that is good about Necromancer is better in Detective. The plot is tighter (with no dangling Chekov's Gun like the first book). The characters stay true. The world is richly detailed. And best of all, the pacing is perfect. You may read this book in a single sitting just because it never gets slow and never gets rushed.

Johannes Cabal, a necromancer of some infamy, is attempting to return home with some ill-gotten goods when he becomes entangled in a murder-mystery aboard an airship. Somewhat unwillingly, he turns his sharply analytical mind to unraveling the plot, so long as it doesn't endanger his escape. And because life is never simple, his pseudo-nemesis from his past train adventure, Leonie Barrow, happens to be on that same ship. Hilarity, hijinks, and murder ensue.

The one marked divergence from the first book is that Detective has a bit of steampunk in it. This is not a steampunk-centered book, to revel in the mystical technology, but the descriptions of some of the machines are quite interesting. Beyond the contrived replacement countries to fill out Eastern Europe, this addition sets Cabal's world as clearly different from our own (ignoring, of course, the necromancy).

Reading the first book is not necessary for reading this one, as the relevant bits of plot are quickly and efficiently rehashed as necessary, but i don't know why anyone would deprive themselves of the pleasure of watching these characters develop.
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Format: Hardcover
"Johannes Cabal the Necromancer" was without a doubt my favorite book I read last year. The humor, the characters, the wonderful writing... rarely do I find a book that I enjoyed as much as it. The mixture of horror and comedy tropes blended so well together by Mr. Howard that I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. It is with some regret that I have to say that this sequel, while keeping the comedy firmly intact, disregards the horror tropes almost entirely.

In this novel, Johannes Cabal (a necromancer of some little infamy) finds himself in a bit of a predicament. He's stolen a book that could be quite useful for one in his trade and is on the run from a government that is, to put it lightly, not entirely pleased with his recent actions. He takes the identity of a civil servant and boards an aeroship the Princess Hortense so as to make a quick, and more importantly, unobserved getaway. Unfortunately for Cabal, not a night goes by without him running into someone who is well aware of his true identity and guarantees that he will be exposed once their destination is reached. As if matters couldn't get any worse, someone decides to make a nuisance of his or her self and commit a murder in an extremely puzzling way so that it catches Cabal's sense of curiosity.

What follows afterwards can only be described as a comedic steam punk detective story. Now, I'm a fan of both the detective and the steam punk genres, and a combination of the two is something I'm utterly delighted to see... but it still wasn't what I was looking for here. I didn't expect to see Cabal's carnival again, but I was expecting a little more necromancy and horror in the continuation of a story about a necromancer.

After I got over this disappointment though, I must say I did enjoy myself.
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Format: Paperback
Saying that this is a steampunk novel is an almost useless definition. So many literary mash-ups fly the flag of steampunk that it should be a requirement that they come with flowcharts that explain the various influences and homages that make them up. In this case we have a story set in a mostly alternate reality Europe in which the usual eastern European countries are replaced by states called Mirkarvia, Senza, and Katamenia. The time period is, roughly speaking, Edwardian, and the technology features airships (of course) and entomopters, a dragonfly-inspired aircraft. The literary influences include Agatha Christie, H.P. Lovecraft, and boys adventure magazines like Chums. In sum, the usual DNA of a steampunk adventure.

What sets Cabal apart from the common herd of blood and thunder Victoriana steampunk fiction is that Howard clearly set out with a strong story idea before adding in the steampunk elements. And it doesn't hurt that he's a fine writer. Johannes Cabal, the Detective is the second in a series and it manages to mix together a locked room mystery with a spy action-thriller as well as a taste of supernatural horror. It's to Howard's credit that none of these elements feel forced or awkward. Other steampunk writers I've read tend to clutter up the foreground with steampunk set dressing, as it were, and leave the story behind. This novel would work well even if it wasn't set in an alternate historical reality. Really, the steampunk stuff is just a bonus.

This adventure finds Cabal, a necromancer, fleeing Mirkarvia after raising the country's king from the dead (temporarily). He flees to Senza aboard an airship under a false name and then the fun begins. One of the passengers is murdered and Cabal reluctantly takes the case.
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