In the twentieth part of Terrier, Beka’s landlord sends her to the possible first victim of the Shadow Snake, and then Y’ALL CLIFFHANGER’D ME AT THE WORST PART ON PURPOSE OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Terrier.
Please tell me that some of you read the page with the splits for this book and CACKLED when you saw where this section was going to end because OH MY GOD. Like, I need the next section right at this moment because I have never been closer to figuring out both of these mysteries, and yet I’M STILL SO FAR.
At the start of her day on Saturday, May 9th, Beka realizes how much her breakfast routines have changed. I know she’s weary (and for a good reason) about so many Rats and potential Rats and Rogue associates coming to her place each morning, but I think in the long run, this will actually be a good thing. A large part of this section deals with Beka’s insistence that she’s not significant enough of a Dog, at least not yet. I love that not only do we spend more time with Ersken, but he points out to Beka that she’s already done some incredible things since becoming a Puppy.
More on that later. But I think that we’ll see a parallel growing over this series between Beka and George, at least in terms of how Beka balances the two worlds she lives in. George did that as a Rogue, though obviously from the opposite side she’s on. BUT IT’S TOTALLY POSSIBLE, RIGHT?
Beka’s landlord sends Beka on a pursuit for another clue; this time, though, the timeline places this possible victim earlier than any known Shadow Snake crime. And Beka knows that if this is the case, then she might be able to learn more about the Snake’s identity than ever before. Her theory proves to be right, though in the process, she has to wade through a mage’s guilt and pain over her lost child in order to learn the most important clue so far.
So, with Ersken joining her so as to avoid his prying sisters, Beka heads to Amaya Painter’s home, and I’m immediately amused by the fact that Amaya quickly realizes that Pounce is not a normal cat. I mean, of course that would happen! She’s a mage, and Pounce is ridiculous. Well, all cats are ridiculous, but Pounce is special. Oh gods, I love it so much! Anyway, things aren’t the slightest bit humorous after this. As Ersken and Beka slip straight into the good cop/bad cop routine without discussing it for a second â€“ ACTUALLY. Let’s start by talking about this because it’s incredible to watch. Both Ersken and Beka know what their strengths are, they play to them, and they do so in perfect compliment to one another. Holy shit, can they be paired together for future books? Because goddamn, they work so well together. Ersken is sympathetic and charming, and Beka is cold and intimidating.
OH MY GOD
THEY ARE TUNSTALL AND GOODWIN.
I JUST REALIZED THIS. THIS IS TOO MUCH HOLY SHIT.
Let’s move on to Amaya before I collapse. In many respects, Amaya’s experience matches the recent victims, but it’s only after Beka presses her (and things get more and more uncomfortable) that we learn how this was different. I really do think that Amaya’s son Calum was the first victim of the Snake. The note was sloppy, sure, and it was clear that the Snake hadn’t perfected their technique. They still exploited Amaya’s recent wealth (targeting her for a ruby pendulum she had acquired), they still kidnapped Calum, and they still tried to get her to pay a ransom. But the Snake was truly nothing more than a childhood story at that point, and so Amaya never paid the Snake.
She also never told her partner what happened to their son, and in a tragic twist, the lie Amaya constructed about Calum’s fate IS WHAT LED HIM TO DROWN IN THE OCEAN WHEN HIS SHIP WENT DOWN. I don’t know why I continue to be surprised when this book proves how grim everything is for everyone, but GODDAMN THIS MESSED ME UP.
But y’all. Y’ALL.
“They took him from bed, right?” Ersken asked it slow, as if he let the words drip through her brain. “Like the others.”
“Calum was took in the Nightmarket,” Mistress Painter said.
HE WASN’T TAKEN FROM HIS BED. This is not only one of the few deviances from the Snake’s method, it speaks to the identity of the Snake: THEY HAD TO HAVE SEEN MISTRESS PAINTER WITH HER RUBY AND TOOK HER SON RIGHT THEN. MEANING THEY WERE IN THE NIGHTMARKET.
I was thinking, The Snake saw that pendant and wanted it. He grabbed Calum then and there. Of all the folk on Spicers’ Row then and now, the only one who keeps coming under our noses is Yates Noll.
This is a frustrating reveal because it is still not 100% confirmed. The evidence continues to point straight at him, but I am terrified to actually say YES IT’S HIM LOCK HIM UP because let’s be real. Look at what I do for a living. I AM PROBABLY GOING TO BE WRONG.
And before we talk about the next clue that absolutely overshadows this reveal, I did want to talk about Ersken and Beka’s conversation that they have after visiting Mistress Painter. Beka expresses discomfort at being referred to as a Terrier, which had already happened earlier in the day. When Ersken tries to remind Beka that she’s already on the path to do great things, she replies:
“Are you forgetting ‘Fishpuppy’?” I asked him.
Actuallyâ€¦ yes. YES, I AM. I had completely forgotten that happened, and it’s only right at this moment that I’m noticing that no one has referred to her as this in hundreds of pages. OH. OH MY GODS, BEKA, YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE ENOUGH TO OUTLIVE THAT REPUTATION. My heart.
Anyway, before the big development in the digger case, I thought Pierce was reminding us once again that Beka’s work as a Dog was going to make people unhappy. Actually, that is one of the reasons for the Ashmiller children’s appearance here. It’s not like this reading is mutually exclusive with the plot twist, you know? The truth is that Beka knows that she’ll have to arrest people she likes. She’ll have to enforce the law even if the law is unjust or targets the disadvantaged or the desperate. There’s no clear-cut line all the time, you know? So I like that despite that Beka is furious at these kids for giving her a hard time for doing her job, she still experiences guilt for what happened to them. Because truly, these three children don’t deserve to be thrown out of their home; their father doesn’t deserve to be poor or unemployed; and they don’t deserve to suffer.
Oh, right. This is also important:
The older girl scooped all the coins from the bowl before I might change my mind. “He said they was digging, but it was a secret,” she said. “They wasn’t to tell a soul, a’cos there was only a few jobs, and folk would mob ’em, work bein’ hard to find.”
OH. OH NO. THISâ€¦ no! Timeline-wise? This looks exactly like their father was in the last digger group. Who were all poisoned to death. OH MY GOD, DID THESE CHILDREN LOSE THEIR FATHER, TOO? But Beka is thinking so much further ahead: THESE KIDS HAVE GIVEN HER THE BEST POSSIBLE CLUE TO THE DIGGER MYSTERY. So, because she’s a WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING, she puts the three of them up in her own room, and then I’m left hanging because all of you are evil and want to see me squirm. BUT HOLY SHIT, EVERYONE. IT’S ALL COMING TOGETHER. GODDAMN.
I’m so excited.
The original text contains the words “mad” and “crazy.”
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