Bookburners Episode Five: The Market Arcanum

The Market Arcanum by Margaret Dunlap, Bookburners #5 

When a mysterious invite arrives in the mail and Father Menchu responds by whisking Sal off to Lichtenstein, the former cop is left on very new ground as she gets more than a glimpse at the broader world of magic users. Unfortunately, they are immediately confronted by a wealthy business man who is less upset about them blowing up his boat two episodes ago, as he is about them stealing his (sludge-demon releasing) book. When the three remaining Team members back in Rome suddenly find themselves under attack, Sal and Menchu are left scrambling for how to help and have to turn to the peculiar techno-cultists whose computers run on seahorses and have a pointed interest in the cop sister of their acquaintance Perry. Welcome to the Market Arcanum. 

A lot of things have happened over the last four episodes of Bookburners. Sal the latest addition to Team Three of the Bookburners got a lot of moneys worth. Sal went from being an NYPD cop to fighting the supernatural things that resides within books. She was dragged into this all by her brother. Who read the wrong book at the wrong time. After several successive missions Sal has gotten the hang of what it takes to be a Bookburner, several weeks have already passed and for her it is just normal. 

But Sal doesn't know all the fine details yet. Father Menchu, the leader of Team Three receives an invitation for the Market Arcanum. Since Grace, Liam and Asanti have all been there before and Sal hasn't she is the designated person to accompany Menchu on this task. Now, the Market Arcanum might sound as a grand bazaar of the weird and the occult and indeed it is. It is best viewed as the Black Market of the occult. Sal makes a well placed note is saying why doesn't Team One just nuke this place? Well the answer is quite shocking, Father Menchu's reply is that they aren't sure if they can actually win... There are mightier forces than the Bookburners. 

The reason that Menchu goes to the Market every year is to see how everything stands. Menchu and Sal are lucky though as there is a non-hostile code of conduct at the Market stating that you cannot attack each other. So there is some advantage in that. But well rules are there not to be broken (there would be dire consequences), but they can be circumvented, because it states that you cannot attack anyone at the Market. Do you all remember Mr. Norse? Well he is back and he means business, he wants what was taken from him and does so in a clever way. He doesn't attack Menchu and Sal right away but goes all the way to Rome. Now Sal and Menchu only have a few days to stop Mr. Norse again, but they have to use the means possible at the Market. And Rome is really at walking distance of Lichtenstein... 

This episode was a blast to read. The Market Arcanum just inspired what I imagined from such a underground black market with various dangerous parties making "fan and banter" for a short time but when it is all over they continue with their dangerous games, they say a lot with a smile but on the inside it is pure business and seeing where the opposition stands. Margaret Dunlap also delves deeper into the history of Father Menchu, which for him after all this time if still difficult to talk about. Great stuff.

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