This murder mystery set in the Aztec empire reads quickly, and it's refreshing to encounter such a unique setting, where blood rituals, human or animal sacrifice, and slavery are simply everyday aspects of life, as unremarkable to the main character Acatl as the brutality and violence of today's television and movies are to us. As a main character, Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead, remains realistic even as he investigates a murder to try to clear his brother. Bodard keeps her characters grounded in ordinary frustration; Acatl's not a superhero or Sherlock Holmes kind of fantasy figure, but rather a more ordinary man who's been pushed out of his comfort zone. This can make the book occassionally aggravating, as I kept wanting Acatl to encounter more success. But Acatl's struggles eventually build to an emotionally resonant climax. In that respect, Bodard's writing reminded me of Robin Hobb, where fantasy elements such as magic provide no relief from everyday personal struggles and the emotional costs of love, ambition, and family. Recommended if you like mysteries or want to encounter a fresh fantasy setting more concerned with character than escapism.