R.S. Belcher, the acclaimed author of The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana, launches a gritty new urban fantasy series set in today's seedy occult underworld in Nightwise.
In the more shadowy corners of the world, frequented by angels and demons and everything in between, Laytham Ballard is a legend. It's said he raised the dead at the age of 10, stole the Philosopher's Stone in Vegas back in 1999, and survived the bloodsucking kiss of the Mosquito Queen. Wise in the hidden ways of the night, he's also a cynical bastard who stopped thinking of himself as the good guy a long time ago.
Now a promise to a dying friend has Ballard on the trail of an escaped Serbian war criminal with friends in both high and low places - and a sinister history of blood sacrifices. Ballard is hell-bent on making Dusan Slorzack pay for his numerous atrocities, but Slorzack seems to have literally dropped off the face of the Earth, beyond the reach of his enemies, the Illuminati, and maybe even the devil himself. To find Slorzack, Ballard must follow a winding, treacherous path that stretches from Wall Street and Washington, DC, to backwoods hollows and truck stops while risking what's left of his very soul....
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An urban fantasy that does not follow the tired template of a wizard (vampire, werewolf, angel…) attempting to redeem himself from his dark past and facing off against an evil wizard (vampire, werewolf, demon, former teacher/master…) who wants to steal or possesses a magical object or raise a demon/god (supernatural villains are pretty limited in imagination) in order to control/destroy the world. Despite his superior powers, our hero is only able to prevail with the help of his friends and a valuable lesson is learned by all.
Laytham Ballard is a magic-using, drug-using, people-using anti-hero. He’s capable of being a truly bad guy, has a truly bad past and is not particularly haunted by that (though he plays lip service to guilt and has a conscious when it suits him). An outstandingly refreshing character in a genre where the idea of a bad-boy protagonist is a guy with the thinnest veneer of roguishness covering his heart of gold.
Despite plot being secondary to the characters in this book, I don't want to risk spoiling it. Suffice to say that the story itself is more than serviceable.
That Bronson Pinchot is outstanding should go without saying.
Highly recommended.In response to a couple of objections by other reviewers:
Freaky sex (S&M). This is mentioned for a short time early in the book followed a bit later by a single sex scene that can easily be skipped. In the last 3/4 of the book sex of any kind does not come up in any meaningful way. Perhaps reading the whole book before writing a review would be helpful to all.
The main character being arrogant/narcissistic/a trash-talker. First urban fantasy novel?
- Dewey Manlove