Author: Andrew Mayne
Length: 352 pages
Where Bethany’s copy came from: ARC from Harper Collins/Bourbon Street Press
Plot Basics: Jessica Blackwood is content to work as an analyst for the FBI, leaving her family legacy of stage magic behind her. But when a hacker called the Warlock turns up with clues that lead the FBI to a strange murder in Michigan, the FBI turns to Jessica. The body they find looks like a girl died trying to climb out of her grave. Jessica recognizes the trick of it and becomes a major part of the field investigation team, using her knowledge of magic and illusions to try to get the Bureau one step ahead of the Warlock and stop more deaths.
Banter Points: While I was reading this book, I found myself in a waiting room. The guy sitting next to me watched me read for a while, then asked, “What’s that book called?” I flipped the cover toward him. “Angel Killer,” I said. His body language shifted; he was wearing a t-shirt that read Only God can judge me on it. “No actual angels die in this book. It’s a murder mystery.” “Oh,” he said. “I like those.”
I brought home exactly four books from ALA, only one of them an ARC and it was this one. I’d walked past the Harper Collins booth once and turned down something else, explaining that wasn’t taking many books because I wasn’t shipping them home. I was making another lap and the same publicist recognized me and made a comment but said this one was a mystery. I hopped right in line.
Am I glad that I did. This will be a great series. Jessica’s magician background gives her a real ability to see the case in a different way. It’s nice to see a detective character with a specific set of skills being applied to crime solving. It’s not Bosch and his police procedure working for him, or Sherlock who just knows everything. Jessica doesn’t know everything, but she knows the right way to look at the scene.
Bummer Points: It’s a highly engaging book, but there was something weird about the verb tenses throughout it to me. It’s all first-person present which works, but isn’t a style I’m used to outside of YA novels and short stories. Jessica dips into past tense sometimes when explaining her history o the meeting she just left, but the tense switch was jarring sometimes.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you are looking for a new, inventive mystery series to read, put Andrew Mayne’s Jessica Blackwood books on your list.
Bonus News: The Nerds will have Andrew on the blog for a Q&A post soon!