In the seventeenth part of Bloodhound, Beka and Goodwin are taken to a recently hobbled Rat, who reveals the possible key to the colemonger ring. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Bloodhound.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of torture/police brutality, specifically waterboarding/drowning.
HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT I FINALLY GOT AN ANSWER TO SOMETHING.
It’s entirely possible this is a red herring or such a tiny piece of the puzzle that I’m actually still unprepared for how Bloodhound will end. I can’t deny that while the evidence here points so squarely at Pearl Skinner that it’s hard to come up with any other theory, HOWEVER: it doesn’t all fit. LET’S GET INTO THIS.
This was already uncomfortable and unbearable before Pierce began to address the immutability of the law, but good gods. Kel and Goodwin are summoned to the kennel in Tradesmen’s District, where Durant Elkes is being held, guilty of possessing one of those silver purses full of coles. Before they delve deeper into his story, it seemed pretty open-and-shut, which is the point. I’m sure Goodwin and Beka were thrilled by the idea that they might actually get to talk to someone who was passing silver coles onto others through theft. But Pierce refuses to let us pull our gaze away from the man’s brutal treatment and how, ultimately, it is completely unfair.
It’s through Durant that we learn just how messed up everything is. First of all, Nestor finally reveals that Sir Lionel is about as useless as humanly possible, though it’s because he’s terrified for his wife’s life. I mean, y’all, a death threat is terrible enough, but this???
“He’s terrified to block anything Pearl does. She had the sack to tell him if he resigned his post, my lady dies. So he does nothing.”
WELL, SHIT. And honestly, it explains so much! But Nestor doesn’t stop there. He admits to the Dogs in Port Caynn being underfunded and cynical; he knows that with a powerless Deputy, there’s no real authority to counter Pearl; and Port Caynn is isolated from the resources that Corus is used to. All of this is important to help understand the atmosphere in Port Caynn, and it sheds light on the perplexing behaviors and habits we’ve seen throughout this book. And resources are vital to a force like this, you know? Without money or manpower or anything to boost morale, the Dogs slip into a decline.
Unfortunately, the scene at the center of this section is not something that’s specific to Port Caynn. And I’m so glad that Pierce didn’t make this a problem central to this one location. The Dogs as an organization rely on torture and mistreatment of their prisoners to gain information. Granted, it doesn’t seem to happen that often. This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a torture scene, but it’s possible it’s been happening off-page throughout this series. Regardless, the way Shales and Angelsea treat Durant is simply terrifying.
While I took this whole thing as a reference to waterboarding, it’s not like this specific technique was a recent invention. The Spanish used something similar in the Inquisition, I believe! Regardless, the depiction is detailed and nauseating. Thankfully, because we see everything through the eyes of Beka, it’s coded as being a horrible thing. Beka doesn’t try to justify the use of the torture, and her internal monologue actually decries the use of it. But it’s made even worse when Beka and Goodwin realize that Durant wasn’t the source of any coles; he was just a victim of the same filching scheme that Beka had stopped her first day. Which meant that someone purposely stole from him and replaced his purse with one of the red ones.
Durant reveals who he suspects was responsible: Steen Bolter. Who gave Durant a hard time for not selling him stores of brass. STORES OF BRASS THAT COULD EASILY BE MELTED DOWN WITHOUT BEING TRACED. STORES OF BRASS THAT COULD BE USED TO MAKE COLES. And look, this is such a HUGE reveal, but there’s still a problem:
“So why would a Rogue want folk to have a purse full of coles?”
I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T GET IT.
Meanwhile, guess who still gets screwed? Durant. Despite that he was trying to do his best with the situation he’d been dealt, he’ll still receive the worst the law has to offer: his hand will be cut off and the stump will be sealed with BOILING OIL. Beka spells out what’s fucked up about this very clearly:
I didn’t want to think about it. I serve the law, but sometimes the law can be too hard for my liking. There is no give to it, no tiny openings through which mice can escape while leaving Rats to pay the penalties they have earned.
So, given the brutality of shit like the Three Strikes Law here in California, it’s kind of nice to see criticism of the inflexibility of the law in the book. It works well alongside the in-book criticisms of Durant’s treatment. Seriously, it’s so upsetting to know what’s going to happen to him, you know?
Might be responsible for the coles??? Maybe??? It looks like it’s her, you know? Plus, Nestor drops a few whoppers by sharing that:
- Pearl gambles nearly every night.
- So do her three “gossips,” and they do so more than her.
- On top of that, Jupp and Zolaika win more than the others.
- Oh, and they only play silver games.
- And swap their winnings for gold coins. ALWAYS
- AND THE GAMBLING HOUSES ARE STUCK IN THIS SHITTY ARRANGEMENT BECAUSE PEARL SKINNER IS TERRIFYING.
So, I suppose it’s possible that Pearl’s just so horrifically selfish that she’s willing to sink the city into chaos just so she can temporarily be rich. Which… good lord, this is absurd. What is your game, Pearl? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Sprites and plans
Yo, SPRITES ARE IN THIS FICTIONAL UNIVERSE? I wanted to see one so badly once Goodwin said she’d been COMING TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH ONE EVERY NIGHT AFTER BEKA WENT TO HER ROOM. What the hell, you’ve been holding out on me, Goodwin! So, this means they’ve got a spot where they can discuss things without fear of being overheard. That’s wonderful! It’s here that Goodwin puts the next big plan into motion. It’s clear that they’ve got to act as fast as possible to either catch Pearl in the act or to use the information they have to take her down. While I’m still confused about her ultimate goals, Pearl really does seem to be responsible for the coles.
My only worry about Goodwin heading back to Corus is that… well, I think that Pearl’s spies will notice that Beka is alone. What if they take advantage of her? I believe that Beka will be cautious while alone, but Pearl is so unpredictable. She’s a constantly fluctuating variable, and if she catches wind that she’s a suspect, it’s going to be chaos. Ah, I guess I’m just so used to Goodwin and Beka being together that the thought of them being apart frightens me. I HOPE THIS GOES WELL.
The original text contains use of the word “mad.”
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