Den of Smoke, Christopher Byford – Book Review

Hello humans! If you read yesterday’s review then I’m sure you saw this one coming. I’m reviewing the third and final book in The Gambler’s Den series Den of Smoke. I actually hugely enjoyed this series from start to finish, if you’re looking for a fun quick heist series with enough wild train chases to capture your imagination then I think you could do worse than giving these a go!

den of smoke christopher byford.jpeg

Goodreads Summary:

There is always someone ready to take the title villain…

Jackdaw may once have been a part of Willheim’s gang but now he’s looking for a new life, a free life.

But will he be able to shake his past for good, or will he end up in a worse position than he was before?

Find out in the third book of this exciting fantasy series.

Find on Goodreads | Amazon UK (Affiliate)

Interestingly, I’m not sure I would call this a sequel to the previous books, given that the majority of the action is centred on anyone but Franco and Misu. I’d probably call, at least the first 50-70% of this book a companion novel. It has the same setting as the first two books and follows on from the action of Den of Stars but it is about Jackdaw and his crew. I appreciated this hugely as I felt I had had just about enough of the train setting and it was interesting to read something set somewhere a little more static.

It’s always a dangerous line to tread, writing criminal gangs because you have to recognise their morality as, at best, grey, but also endear the reader to them enough that they forgive them their wrongdoings. I think this was achieved in the character of Jackdaw. My issue with the second book in this series was that the motivation of characters wasn’t quite as clear as I would have liked it to be. In Den of Smoke I thought that, at least for the character of Jackdaw, this was rectified. He was a fun character to read and he neither felt too evil or too good.

Where this book lost me a little is that it wasn’t clear, at the start certainly, who the main character was going to be. There is a lot of setting built around Cole, who is also an interesting character, but then later on Jackdaw becomes far more centred. I might have preferred had this been clearly split into a dual POV, but once you get the hang of the fact that you need to worry about both characters it’s easier to follow the plot.

As with the second book, you have to let this book build to the action, though there is a lot happening from the start. It takes until around 60% in to get to the meat of the story and from there on I was hooked, I appreciated the need to set up this entirely new gang and to work out where the characters were coming from. But that’s why I would be more inclined to call this a companion novel than the third book in a trilogy. Judged from that perspective I think this is a hugely enjoyable story to read.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a digital advanced review copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What say you? Have you read any of the books in this series? Let me know in the comments below!


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