The Tea Master and the Detective

The Tea Master and the Detective

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appareance of...

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Title:The Tea Master and the Detective
Author:Aliette de Bodard
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Tea Master and the Detective Reviews

  • Dan Schwent

    The Shadow's Child, the brain of a mindship, is shellshocked and brewing teas for safer space travel when a consulting detective shows up at her door...

    This was a Netgalley find and one of the few Netgalley finds that didn't immediately feel like a homnework assignment from a hated teacher.

    Set in an asteroid belt with a Vietnamese-influenced culture, The Tea Master and the Detective has its roots loosely planted in A Study In Scarlet. Long Chau hires The Shadow's Child to brew her tea and take h

    The Shadow's Child, the brain of a mindship, is shellshocked and brewing teas for safer space travel when a consulting detective shows up at her door...

    This was a Netgalley find and one of the few Netgalley finds that didn't immediately feel like a homnework assignment from a hated teacher.

    Set in an asteroid belt with a Vietnamese-influenced culture, The Tea Master and the Detective has its roots loosely planted in A Study In Scarlet. Long Chau hires The Shadow's Child to brew her tea and take her into the deep spaces to find a corpse in order to study its composition. (

    - From what I gather, the deep spaces are like hyperspace, a medium to speed up space travel. Special teas are needed to keep travelers sane during their journeys.) The body isn't quite what they expect and the mystery unfolds.

    While the story shows its Sherlockian roots in places, that in no way diminishes the enjoyment. I really liked the asteroid belt settings, the deep spaces, hell, the worldbuilding in general. The worldbuilding is seamlessly done. I had a pretty good idea of the history of the world, the technology, and the culture, all without being beaten over the head with info dumps.

    Recasting Watson as a ship's organic mind with a traumatic past was a novel approach and in keeping with the rest of the setting. I can honestly say The Shadow's Child is the most well-rounded ship's computer I've ever read about. You don't see the Enterprise's computer having dinner with the computers of other ships! Honestly, Long Chau's deductions and attitude are Sherlockian but she has a lot more depth than I originally thought. I loved the interplay between Long Chau and The Shadow's Child right away. Before I was even finished, I was dreaming of future stories featuring the pair.

    Over the years, I've read a lot of detective stories based in other genres and most leave me yearning for gumshoes beating down doors or mannerly locked room mysteries. This one was the opposite of that. Five out of five stars.

  • Stephanie

    I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this one, and I started reading it at 3 a.m. on a night when I was sitting up with a sick child. It's a sign of just how wonderful this story is that I was totally gripped and in love with it to the point where I hated setting it down when I was finally able to head to bed myself! I picked it up again first thing the next morning and it really saved me on an exhausted day.

    I have read so many Sherlock Holmes retellings, but this one has genuinely become

    I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this one, and I started reading it at 3 a.m. on a night when I was sitting up with a sick child. It's a sign of just how wonderful this story is that I was totally gripped and in love with it to the point where I hated setting it down when I was finally able to head to bed myself! I picked it up again first thing the next morning and it really saved me on an exhausted day.

    I have read so many Sherlock Holmes retellings, but this one has genuinely become my very favorite. I love it so much!

    I love The Shadow's Child, her vulnerability and intelligence and sensitivity and courage. I love Long Chau and her perfect combination of genius with a moral core despite the abrasive exterior. I LOVE the way they work together! And all of the worldbuilding is just gorgeously done. The whole story is just wonderful, and I'd love to read more about their future adventures.

  • Carol.

    In the age of fantasy books of ridiculous lengths--

    --and series that may never be finished--

    --I've rediscovered my love of novellas. de Bodard has written an intriguing, sure to be award-nominated novella about a mind-ship hired by a brilliant, drug-addicted woman who wants to retrieve a dead body for study. Naturally, it turns out that it was no mere space-accident that caused the untimely death. When the shipmind,

    In the age of fantasy books of ridiculous lengths--

    --and series that may never be finished--

    --I've rediscovered my love of novellas. de Bodard has written an intriguing, sure to be award-nominated novella about a mind-ship hired by a brilliant, drug-addicted woman who wants to retrieve a dead body for study. Naturally, it turns out that it was no mere space-accident that caused the untimely death. When the shipmind,

    takes the job, she finds herself confronting her own past.

    I wasn't expecting a Sherlock style construction, but the parallels soon became clear. Of course, it might have helped that I have been very slowly working my way through the recent Cumberbatch incarnation of Sherlock. Like the Moffat and Gatiss version, this somehow manages to retain a feeling of whimsy in the midst of fear, suspicion, self-doubt, and a mildly sociopathic lead. When I finished, I thought, "well, that was fun," but fun is not the right word, not quite. 'Satisfying' might be better. It pays tribute to the Sherlock format but does something so very different that it feels very new.

    As always, I enjoy de Bodard's writing style. Complex and descriptive, well-suited to the challenge of the world and the story.

    I was very intrigued by the setting, a pan-Asian future world in which people use mind-ships to travel through the deep reaches of space, but the world-building feels just this side of under-done. Though I eventually felt I had a working handle on the mind-ships, it wasn't early enough to make me feel like I understood all the subtext, or how

    could be so damaged. I'm motivated to track down some of her other works in this universe and learn more. I know she can be talented at world building; the Obsidian and Blood series

    , set in the pre-Colombian Aztec Empire, is immersive and fascinating.

    On re-reading, I think that characterization could be improved somewhat, to make this an outstanding.

    ends up sounding a little too neurotic, with an ever-present anxiety. Anxious about money, about going into deep space, about the reliability of Long Chau, she felt barely functional or sympathetic. If you would like a reader to believe a ship can have a personality, it best be a semi-functional one, believable for competently managing existence through unseen depths of space and multiple human generations. In this, there is perhaps the most deviation from the Sherlock structure, with a Watson that is more irritably challenging and less an admiring echo.

    The e-reader edition had some minor formatting issues that I would expect would be fixed, and a rare challenge in word choice or punctuation. More importantly, I'm not exactly sure if the science of the space stands up to reality (see streaming ribbons mentioned above), but I'm not one to be finicky about my space details. But I mention it for hard-core readers who might be.

    Review with links to Sherlock and de Bodard's pages on the universe:

  • TheBookSmugglers

    The Sherlock Holmes retelling I always wanted and now have

  • The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

    The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

    1) I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;

    2) It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and

    3) One of the characters is a mindship . . .

    This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship. It was previously a military ship who physica

    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

    The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book:

    1) I previously read some of the author’s short stories and loved her writing style;

    2) It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and

    3) One of the characters is a mindship . . .

    This mindship, named The Shadow’s Child, is not just any ship. It was previously a military ship who physically survived an ambush and massacre but since retired from active duty and is suffering PTSD and struggling to make ends meet. One of the things the ship does to make money is brew special blends of tea. These teas are made to suit the drinker’s specific goals and body chemistry. One day a woman named Long Chau comes in and requests a serenity blend to focus her mind. The ship takes the needed money and finds itself not only involved in a crime investigation but also having to face deep space where the ship swore it would never enter again.

    Apparently this book is part of a series of books and stories set in the Universe of Xuya. I had never read anything set in Xuya before. I found the world-building and characterizations to be fascinating. I absolutely loved the neurotic, damaged The Shadow’s Child and the story told from the ship’s perspective. I didn’t really care much about the crime story itself but was more focused on how the ship was dealing with a situation it didn’t care for. Long Chau is a purposefully unlikeable character who is trying to do the right thing.

    Ultimately while I really enjoyed the story, I think I would like a longer work with more detailing of how the society functions and how the mindships work. But this character-driven piece was a good introduction to a new world that I hope to visit more often. Besides who doesn’t love mindships? Arrr!

    So lastly . . .

    Thank you Subterranean Press!

    Check out me other reviews at

  • Lois Bujold

    This novella reads like the lovechild of Sherlock Holmes and the Ship Who Sang, dropped into a wormhole inside a space capsule made of Asian history. My first sample of de Bodard: while it is a part, or at least inside, of a longer series, and I suspect the world-building might make for a more leisurely unpacking if one started at the beginning novel, I thought this story worked just fine as a stand-alone.

    Now I want to hunt up the proper beginning.

    (Also, it turns out I like the new way of sellin

    This novella reads like the lovechild of Sherlock Holmes and the Ship Who Sang, dropped into a wormhole inside a space capsule made of Asian history. My first sample of de Bodard: while it is a part, or at least inside, of a longer series, and I suspect the world-building might make for a more leisurely unpacking if one started at the beginning novel, I thought this story worked just fine as a stand-alone.

    Now I want to hunt up the proper beginning.

    (Also, it turns out I like the new way of selling e-novellas ala carte as much as a reader as I do as a writer.)

    Ta, L.

  • Isis

    Vietnamese-flavored Sherlock Holmes IN SPACE, except that Sherlock's a woman and Watson's a spaceship. This novella should have been right up my alley, but I didn't care for the style or the slow pace, and the characters just didn't gel with me. Not my thing, but maybe it's yours.

    Also, damn it, one arrives at deductions by deducing, not by deducting.

    E-arc from NetGalley and Subterranean Press.

  • K.J. Charles

    A glorious spaceship/detective story in which the Holmes-style Consulting Detective is a woman in a Vietnamese-influenced future culture, and Watson is a traumatised sentient starship. Absolutely terrific novella, packing in wonderful ideas and images and a huge amount of humanity. Plus, what a lovely cover. I hope we will get a lot more of these, I wolfed it down and relished every sentence.

  • anna (readingpeaches)

    a sherlock holmes retelling where holmes is a woman & watson is a spaceship????? MY DICK IS HARD

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