Thud! by Terry Pratchett.
(also a board-game)
Pratchett is definitely in a more preachy corner this time. The book picks up the themes of tolerance, fundamentalism and multi-culturalism, so if you’ve read Small Gods, you know which corner the author is in. A fundamentalist dwarf is murdered, and trolls are the obvious fall-guy. Vimes has to solve the murder mystery, avoid starting a war, and deal with a growing city. The allegories are fast and thick in this book, and quite topical after the London bombings. Fundamentalism: bad. Multi-culturalism and tolerance: good.
Beating people up in little rooms — he knew where that led. And if you did it for a good reason, you’d do it for a bad one. You couldn’t say ‘we’re the good guys’ and do bad-guy things.’
The allegory sometimes veers dangerously close to preachy, but a good laugh usually rescues the situation.
Some great names as usual: the Gooseberry personal assistant, the dwarf Grag Ardent, the Troll Mr Shine (him diamond!), Mr. Pessimal the auditor. (Pessimal is an old pun on optimal)
Also this is one of Pratchett’s more lascivious books:
Nobby falls in love with Tawnee the stripper, the policewomen go out for a razzle (discovering drinks with names like ‘Multiple Orgasm’, ‘Pink, Big and Wobbly’, and ‘Neck bolt’), naked policewomen (Sally the vampire, Angua the werewolf) almost in a mud-fight:
‘Yes. We’re both wearing nothing, we’re standing in what, you may have noticed, is increasingly turning into mud, and we’re squaring up to fight. Okay. But there’s something missing, yes?’
‘And that is…?’
‘A paying audience? We could make a fortune.’ Sally winked.
The best part of the book is the feeling that there is a big, living city growing up within the pages. And in this universe, driven by narrativium, good wins in the end by being better.