Changed Souls is a brilliantly uncategorisable book. It's a mystery/thriller set in an alternative 1920s or 30s Chicago where a strange disease is causing its victims to mutate.
The disease has already been used as a justification for an authoritarian government to bring in compulsory quarantine, disinfection and a heavy-handed 'hygiene patrol'. The main character, Lucille, is a patroller whose job is collecting the bodies of people who have died from the disease before they have a chance to infect anyone else. The action begins when Lucille arrives to collect the body of the Mayor's girlfriend, who has died from the disease. But she finds the body gone and in its place the body of another woman with a gunshot wound.
The book follows Lucille's attempts to untangle the mystery, as the possibility of a cover-up brings her into conflict with her own trusting and law-abiding nature.
Lucille is one of my favourite heroines ever: she's kick-ass (exceptionally tall and strong, good at standing up for herself in the face of sexism or violence) but also heart-breakingly naive. As the back-story unfolds we learn why she is so obsessed with being a conscientious patroller and so judgemental about other people who allow the spread of the virus.
Truscott's writing is exceptionally vivid, multi-sensory and stylish, without ever being slow or wordy. We feel and smell the city as we follow Lucille through its morgues, cafeterias and seedy underworld.
The author is promising a prequel as well as a sequel to this intriguing book, and I'm looking forward impatiently to both - I am desperate to understand more about Lucille and the strange world she lives in.