Cannonball Read IV: Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow
I've been steadily researching the paranormal romance/mystery genre for some time as I plot my post-MA writing endeavor. I breezed through Charlaine Harris' "True Blood" oeuvre (yes, Deadlocked is in fact winging its way to my door this second) last year. In attempt to cleanse my literary supernatural palette, I delved into Working for the Devil, the first book in the Danny Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. Fast forward 6 months and I'm neck deep into the fourth book!
Ms. Valentine is a necromancer, bounty hunter and assassin if the money is right. She speaks to the dead to catch killers by hearing the story from the ghost horse's mouth. She is also handy with a sword ala' Black Mamba in Kill Bill. In the first book, Lucifer himself calls upon her skills to hunt down a wayward demon, Santino, who just happened to have murdered Danny's girlfriend before her eyes a few years before. She doesn't like the idea of playing the devil's game, but revenge is something she would never pass up. Also, it doesn't hurt that the paycheck will make her set for life. She is paired up with the devil's right-hand assassin, Japhrimel, to complete the mission.
[MINOR SPOILER ALERT for Book 1]
Despite her being complete opposites (human female and demon male), the two assassins share a cold & strange attraction. In a strange twist, Japhrimel gifts part of his power to Danny through ritual akin to tantric sex. He has literally fallen for her - in the way angels fall for mortals except trade angel for demon. This liaison transforms her into a hedaira and provides her with near-demonic strength to exact her revenge.
In the opening of Saint City Sinners, Lucifer is becoming a real pain in the ass for Danny and her demon lover with another deal she can't refuse - hunting down more rogue demons for the next 7 years. She agrees as the only alternative is death. However, before she can begin the hunt, her only remaining human friend, Gabe, asks for help to hunt down her husband, Eddie's killer who was shot down in seedy hotel working on secret pharmaceutical drug. Thus, Danny promptly says to hell with the Devil's mission and high tails it back to her hometown Saint City, which is a welcome return to the action & setting of the first book. She must uncover the murderers who could be corrupt corporations or the mob looking to get the next gen narcotic. All if Lucifer's rogue demons don't kill her first.
I preferred the plot unfolding in the city she is so emotionally attached to rather than the globetrotting demonic game of chess from the last book. My only gripe with this entry is that she never seems to take the threat of the demons & their hellhounds that seriously. Yes, she has superhuman strength, her demon lover/bodyguard, another necromancer & an immortal assassin called The Deathless watching her back. But don't think you can play Lucifer for a fool. The romance bit is quite lacking as she has her hands full with every bad thing tearing apart the city looking to kill her. Plus, she's continually at odds with her lover as he never lets her in on his plans. Apparently, demons tend to be quite secretive and think they always know better than their human girlfriends.
On the up side, the action has finally been ratcheted up to 11, so it's not like I got bored. I admire her character the most because she blindly runs into danger despite the odds because that's just what she does. She must do whatever it takes to avenge her friend's killer. To hell with the devil and her love life if need be.
I highly recommend this series for any fans of William Gibson, Lost Girl or the Angel/Buffy-verse.
For more of teresaelectro's reviews, check out her blog, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict.
This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)