I liked Stiletto. It had a lot of the great elements from The Rook, with a few new ones. There was action, supernatural weirdness, and snark aplenty.
The Checquy and The Grafters are in the middle of negotiating their merge and of course things go wrong and get complicated. Much of the story focuses on 2 new characters, one from each side: Pawn Felicity Clements, and Odette Leliefeld, descendent of the founder of the Grafters. The perspective switches back and forth between the two, which is kinda fun so you get to see what that the voice they were just listening to looks like from the other side. There are several threats to the deal, but it turns out the main one is from Grafter dissenters to whom Odette has a connection. During the final confrontation, there’s probably one of the best reveals in the book that concerns bringing back an unexpected character from the first novel.
I have a few small complaints. First, there was not nearly enough Myfanwy and pals from the first book, and what there was, was at random intervals that made the lack of time on the characters all the more evident because of how awesome they are. Myfanwy is more in charge than she was in the previous story but without seeing her internal processes which we don’t get very much of, there are times when it seems like she’s just there to deal with crises or get attacked. Also, where’s the letters from the original ‘me’? I miss those. There could have been at least one, or memory of it. Seeing a little more of Alrich was fun and seeing a little more of Lady Farrier was a nice touch, but it would have been nice to see what Joshua etc. were up to too as well.
Problem 2 is that the general arc of the main story is pretty predictable. The two heroines start out hating each other, but inevitably become good friends. Then there was the cringe-inducing line whence the title comes or maybe the line was inserted to justify the title. This happens towards the end when Felicity and Odette are speculating about the future, and one says to the other, “You’re a tool, to be used and directed for the good of the people. Sometimes you’ll be a scalpel, cutting out disease. Sometimes, you’ll be a sword, and you’ll take on threats with all the strength you can muster. And sometimes, you’ll be a stiletto, a hidden weapon that slides quietly into the heart.” I admit, I’d been wondering about the title (shoe versus knife, and both are plausible in this context), but this is just trying a little too hard. I may have actually rolled my eyes at this part.
The biggest problem though is that now I have to wait who knows how long for book 3.