Cat Nap: a Sunny and Shadow mystery by Claire Donally
Sequel to The Big Kitty. This one starts with Sunny needing to call on her vet, Jane Rigsdale, for some minor care for Shadow (after the last volume, Jane promised free care for Shadow anytime). Sunny likes Jane, but the two of them are competing for the affections of police detective Will Price, so when Jane asks her to provide back-up on a visit to her ex (Martin Rigsdale, also a veterinarian, and something of a jerk as well as being constantly on the make (which is why he’s her ex)) who has come back into her life to ask for money, now that she has the funding for a pet-care foundation set up (thanks to an inheritence from the first book — he doesn’ see why some of that money shouldn’t come his way. Jane wants to make clear to him that he ain’t gettin’ none. Sunny goes along, and so is on the scene when Martin turns out to be dead — murdered. And of course the angry ex-wife is suspect number one.
As if clearing Jane’s name isn’t stress enough for Sunny, Shadow is upset that Sunny’s Dad’s lady friend keeps bringing her new puppy around. He’s worried that he might be about to lose his new home . . . worried enough, perhaps, to take off first?
This builds nicely on the characters and relationships of the first book, while adding in enough new stuff to keep the interest going. The problem I had with the first one, the whole “spending time in Shadow’s head” thing continues, but it still isn’t badly done and there isn’t enough of it to be more than a little bit off-putting. All things considered, a decent book and as with most of the best mystery series you don’t have to have read the first book to understand this one. Recommended.
The Ghoul Vendetta: a SPI files novel by Lisa Shearin
I have missed a book. I grabbed what I thought was the long-awaited third SPI files novel, only to find that it was in fact the fourth. I shall have to remedy that.
Meanwhile, Supernatural Protection and Investigations’ seer Makenna Fraser is on a date with handsome goblin Rake Danescu (goblins in Shearins’ work are more like dark elves than orcs) on a yacht owned by one of New York’s vampire mafia when it is attacked by a kraken and a collection of what seems like creatures from the black lagoon and the owner kidnapped. Seemingly unrelatedly, a gang of ghouls robs a bank and steals several security deposit boxes. They also eat a security guard on camera, creating a PR nightmare for SPI.
Not surprisingly, the crimes turn out to be related: the deposit boxes belonged to several families of the vampire mafia. The leader of this gang of ghouls has a particular mad-on for Makenna’s partner Ian, who was introduced to the supernatural when he was a cop and said ghoul attacked and ate his partner in front of him. Since then the ghoul has popped up from time to time, enough for Mak and Ian to determine that he’s only pretending to be a ghoul. But what is he? Why does he hate Ian? What is his connection to the creatures that attacked the yacht?
This is a light, but not too light, fantasy with a mystery/action focus. I like the characters, I find the world-building interesting, and I should note that the fact that I missed a book didn’t affect my ability to understand what was going on here. This implies that you don’t need to have read the rest of the series to read future volumes of this one.
Four and Twenty Blackbirds: an Eden Moore story by Cherie Priest
Eden Moore did not have an easy childhood. Even if you discount seeing ghosts, growing up a mixed-race child in the American South can’t be easy. Add in being an orphan whose mother allegedly died in an asylum (it’s a bit more complicated than that) and a cousin who seems to think that she will grow up to be evil and is determined to kill her before she does and, well, you wind up with a young woman with some issues around the topic of family, to say the least. But the more Eden looks into her family history, the darker things get. Even if Eden herself isn’t evil, someone out there is. And they’re waiting for her . . .
This is early Priest, set in the south and written before she moved to Seattle the first time. It shows her usual talent, both in character and in setting, and the plot surprises with the kind of gothic twists that she used to such advantage elsewhere. Highly recommended.