The Tainted Cup (Hardcover)

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The Tainted Cup By Robert Jackson Bennett Cover Image

The Tainted Cup (Hardcover)

$28.99


On Our Shelves Now
McLean & Eakin
5 on hand, as of May 25 5:08pm
(SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY)

February 2024 Indie Next List


“Robert Jackson Bennett’s books always sound so intriguing. The Tainted Cup is the first I’ve read, and I’m so glad I did. His utterly original world and refreshing premise put me into an entirely new reality, and I enjoyed every second of it!”
— Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD

Staff Reviews


Fans of classic murder mysteries and intricate fantasy worlds will find themselves captivated by The Tainted Cup. Robert Jackson Bennett masterfully blends these elements, creating a compelling story with a Sherlock Holmes-inspired investigative duo at its core. The story follows Signum Dinios Kol, a young investigator, as he assists the brilliant (and always blindfolded) Immunis Ana Dolabra in solving a bizarre murder. As they delve deeper into the case, they uncover a web of corruption and secrets that threatens the very core of the Empire.
While the mystery itself is captivating, with well-paced reveals and a satisfying conclusion, the true strength of the novel lies in its world-building. Bennett paints a vivid picture of a society constantly under siege by monstrous sea-titans, creating a sense of ever-present danger. The unique setting and captivating plot make The Tainted Cup a must read for anyone seeking a refreshing blend of fantasy and mystery.

— From Zach

A Holmes and Watson–style detective duo take the stage in this fantasy with a mystery twist, from the Edgar-winning, multiple Hugo-nominated Robert Jackson Bennett

“Great fantasy detective stories are too rare, but Bennett—[a] rising star of fantasy—more than delivers.”—Charlie Jane Anders, The Washington Post


In Daretana’s greatest mansion, a high imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree erupted from his body. Even here at the Empire’s borders, where contagions abound and the blood of the leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death both terrifying and impossible.

Assigned to investigate is Ana Dolabra, a detective whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities. Rumor has it that she wears a blindfold at all times, and that she can solve impossible cases without even stepping outside the walls of her home.

At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol, magically altered in ways that make him the perfect aide to Ana’s brilliance. Din is at turns scandalized, perplexed, and utterly infuriated by his new superior—but as the case unfolds and he watches Ana’s mind leap from one startling deduction to the next, he must admit that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.

As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect.

By an “endlessly inventive” (Vulture) author with a “wicked sense of humor” (NPR), The Tainted Cup mixes the charms of detective fiction with brilliant world-building to deliver a fiendishly clever mystery that’s at once instantly recognizable and thrillingly new.
Robert Jackson Bennett is the author of the Founders Trilogy and the Divine Cities Trilogy, which were both Hugo Award finalists in the Best Series category. The first book in the Divine Cities Trilogy, City of Stairs, was also a finalist for the World Fantasy and Locus awards, and the second, City of Blades, was a finalist for the World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy awards. His previous novels, which include American Elsewhere and The Company Man, have received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Philip K. Dick Citation of Excellence. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

Product Details ISBN: 9781984820709
ISBN-10: 1984820702
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 432
Language: English
“Great fantasy detective stories are too rare, but Bennett . . . more than delivers.”—Charlie Jane Anders, The Washington Post

“Holmes and Watson get a new twist in this fantastical noir set in a mysterious empire . . . Perfect for those who loved China Mieville’s Perdito Street and Kraken but wished there was more camaraderie and crime-solving.”CrimeReads

"A wonderful novel whose pull to keep turning pages comes from the great plot, inventive world, and fascinating characters. Highly recommended.”SFF World

“Immediately grabbed my attention with a riveting mystery and quirky characters . . .  I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.”Mystery & Suspense

“Bennett is a master of world-building . . . This is just such a fun, compelling read! I was [so enthralled] by the writing and plot of this terrific and very human mystery.”Criminal Element

“Bennett’s fantasy spin on Sherlock Holmes will dazzle readers with both its imaginative world building and perfect pacing.”Bookpage (starred review)

“Sherlock Holmes meets Game of Thrones. . . . A rousing adventure for alt-fantasy fans.”Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will be wowed.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Inspired by Nero Wolfe with a bit of Hannibal Lecter added to his prime investigator.”Booklist (starred review)

“Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and steampunk mystery and readers searching for magically engineered combinations of alchemy and corruption.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Original, imaginative, and suspenseful, The Tainted Cup superbly blends mystery and fantasy. I couldn’t put it down. Give me more of this world and these characters ASAP!”—Meg Gardiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the UNSUB series

“Part Sherlock Holmes murder mystery, part Through the Looking-Glass, The Tainted Cup is one of the wildest, most original stories I’ve ever had the privilege to explore. This is a book that has planted roots in my head for the rest of my life.”—Wesley Chu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The War Arts Saga

“A riveting murder mystery wrapped in a twisty conspiracy, set in a vivid fantasy world terrorized by eldritch monsters . . .”—Fonda Lee, World Fantasy Award–winning author of the Green Bone Saga

“I loved this. A twisty detective story, a weird fantasy, a thrilling adventure—The Tainted Cup is a masterstroke. I want Bennett to write a dozen of these, and send them to me yesterday.”—Max Gladstone, New York Times bestselling co-author of This Is How You Lose the Time War

The Tainted Cup is a true fantasy mystery, with a leading duo who stand with Holmes and Watson among the greats. And Bennett sets it all in a squishy, fascinating, biopunk world I’m dying to find out more about. Bring on the next one!”—Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series

“A classic murder mystery set against dazzling world-building and sly social commentary. Robert Jackson Bennett doesn’t miss.”—James L. Sutter, author of Darkhearts