Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Orbit • 371 pages • £12.99
Is it all Angel’s fault, or was there bound to be a glut of “supernatural private eye” stories sooner or later? Regardless of the cause, along with the likes of Jim Butcher and Laurell K Hamilton, Kelley Armstrong fuses detective fiction
with traditional horror elements.
It’s a recipe for pure noir, although this tale isn’t especially dark, and were it not for a couple of sex scenes you could easily give this to a student in their early years of high school without any qualms. There’s violence, but no worse than they’d encounter on CSI.
The story’s fairly simple: Hope Adams, half-demon journo working for an American tabloid (she writes the supernatural stories – shades of Kolchak), is employed by the sorceror running a major supernatural corporation based in Miami to investigate a local gang, also made up of non-humans. If you’re familiar with this genre, you’ll realise that old lovers, members of other people’s families and so on are sure to feature and that no-one is telling anyone the whole truth.
It’s told from two viewpoints: Hope’s and that of Lucas, a sorceror and PI, who’s also the son of the corporation’s boss. This is a neat trick, removing the need for too much exposition (Lucas knows all about his father’s firm, so we don’t need to have another character explaining it all). It also prevents the tale becoming too unbalanced and Hope becoming annoyingly all-desirable, all-powerful and ultimately all-irritating – a problem that certain other series with a strong lead character have encountered. Good soapy fun, with a strong (if unsurprising) plot.