When LA’s vampires, witches, and werewolves make a mess, they call Scarlett Bernard to clean it up. Her ability as a null erases all magical traces from anything — or anyone — that comes within ten feet of her, and keeps humans in the dark about the city’s paranormal activity. One night when she’s called to a grisly crime scene, Scarlett is spied by the all-too-human LAPD cop Jesse Cruz, who strikes up a deal with her: he’ll keep quiet about the supernatural underworld if she helps him crack the case. She agrees, but the city’s chief vampire, Dash, starts to suspect Scarlett is behind the murders and will reveal all she knows of his shadowy empire. Now it’ll take more than Scarlett’s unique abilities to clear her name, keep the underworld underground, and track down the real killer.
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O.K., I admit it... I bought this book because there was nothing out by anyone I usually read, it came well-reviewed by someone I like, and, yes, it was on sale. I will say this- no spoilers here. Having said that, I actually really enjoyed this book. It wasn't the entirely new twist some reviewers had lead me to believe with descriptions of a wholly new type of paranormal creature- I can think of at least two series with nulls, the Parisol Protectorate (we need spell check) and the Carol Marie MMonning (again I don't know how to spell her name- I'm blind and don't see these things so I'm mostly making up spellings), in which the heroine is actually called a "null" with the power to nullify supernatural powers. Even so, it was funny, well-written, and engaging enough that I didn't get bored despite usually being the jerk people refuse to watch mysteries with since "I'm always saying, "obviously it's so and so, the affair and the motive are too obvious" ten minutes in. It wasn't brilliant, but I wanted to read it in a single sitting, and I didn't guess what was going on until well into the second part. The bad guys are bad, but they are also human- in a manner of speaking. They aren't all bad, and the good guys, such as they are, aren't all good. After all, the heroine does crime scene disposal for a living- ie she hides crimes from the cops to pay the bills. I liked the complexity of the characters, even those provided mostly for comic relief, like the adorable and occasionally hilarious roommate. I read some complaints about the narration, and, though a huge amount of that is a matter of personal taste, I liked her- eventually. It took me some time to like her, past the sample even, but she's right for it. Just the right mix of bored, amused, and terrified. She does the male voices justice even if they don't want to make me throw my clothes off (which would be weird and possibly confusing to my sexual identity). A little more on the characters in the potential love triangle- I was fully ready for the "bad BOY" who is sexy and who she is just too stupid to resist and the good guy she should eventually end up with. That's just not the case, no matter how much the heroine wants to make it that way. I obviously still have the guy I want her to end up with- sexy cop just has to beat out sexy bartender werewolf in my book everyday, but they're both actual people with complex personalities, and the sexy bartender werewolf surprised me with his depth- not an easy thing to do. I might even be O.K. if she ends up with the wrong guy, though that usually results in throwing books across the room (obviously metaphorically now that I use my precious I-phone to listen). I also liked that, while there is some romantic stuff going on, and there is some off scene sex, there is no graphic sex, no explicit scenes I need to mute when my husband/friends/ occasionally co-workers walk into the room for the huge amount of mocking that follows. Plus, that kind of sex, graphic and frequent, just gets old after a while, so this was pleasantly refreshing in that sense. There's also none (or very little) of the constant thinking about- and then sharing with us- sex at all times, like during fights or body disposal, which is all too common in these kinds of books- plus, it's creepy to be thinking about getting laid while actually chopping up a body- eew. I like a romance. I want my heroine to end up happily ever after, but me personally, I don't need it graphically. If you do, try Sookie Stackhouse (I'm O.K. if I misspelled that- it's clearly made up), or anything by Carrie Arthur or the Anita Blake books or... the list goes on and on. This NEXT SENTANCE is'nt a spoiler, but you may want to not think too hard about it as you read the book.. the thing SOME PEOPLE SAID WAS A SHOCKING ending, not particularly a shocker if you were paying attention. When people say there's ONLY one possible reason for something, even if they follow it up with, but that's impossible, remember we're talking about vampires, witches, and werewolfs. Reassess impossible. Still, it was a fun cliff-hanger ending. One final note... the second book, Trail of Dead, is out and not on audible or on the audible coming soon list. What gives? I'm kind of craving to know what exciting gore/romance related misadventures one of my potentially favorite heroines gets up to. Give me book two or at least a release date or explaination OF WHY I'M CONTEMPLATING MY FIX ELSEWHERE (GASP). We grow impatient, possibly with torches and pitchforks.
I liked the story line; it was different and intriguing. The characterization was well done; they acted within the 'person-hood' established for them by the author.
Pacing was good; the story neither dragged nor jumped ahead without reason. And the narrator stayed true to that.
I'm not fond, for the most part, of stories that do not end but are the beginning of the next book, and this one has series written all over it, and not in a particularly deft way. (Although it's not a cliff-hanger either.)
SPOILER**It's a love triangle, although the female protagonist isn't one of those romance Tall and Blonde and Gorgeous heroines, thank heavens. Relationships develop rather than are thrust on one.**
All this said, I do not think I'll be going to the next (and the next and the next) book. The set-up seems to indicate more of the same, and she did it right the first time; I don't think I'll need a second helping. But YMMV. If you like the genre and don't need clothes falling off every time the characters get close to each other, you might like this. Not a 'gritty' book although there is violence.