Booktalk: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

This booktalk was written by Susan Smallsreed of the Northwest Library, part of the Multnomah County Library system.

The book cover for A.J. Hartley's SteeplejackIn an alternate South Africa, steeplejacks climb the highest chimneys & buildings to repair the bricks & mortar that hold them up. And the faster they work, the more money they make for their gang and themselves.

Anglet Sutonga has made a name and living for herself as the best steeplejack in the city. She works more quickly and more efficiently than anyone else. That status provides some protection from the brutality of her gangleader because he doesn’t want to risk losing one of his best sources of income. But if Ang doesn’t perform, all bets are off. And at 17, Ang could also be used for prostitution, a fate she wants to avoid at all costs.

So when she’s told to train a new apprentice, she agrees, even though she knows that this one is afraid of heights. When he doesn’t show at the right time, Ang goes looking for him. Unfortunately, the reason he didn’t show up? He’s dead.

The authorities think he slipped and fell. And since he’s just another one of those poor, lower caste Lani kids, why bother to investigate? Ang thinks he was murdered and that he deserves justice, the same as if he’d been a white Feldish kid. But what to do about it?

And then the Beacon, the source of energy and light for the entire city, is stolen. And it had to have involved a steeplejack … a really good steeplejack … someone as good or even better than Ang.

Are the theft and murder related? How will she keep the gang happy, protect herself AND solve two crimes? Read Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley.