I’ve been a big Laura Anne Gilman fan ever since I read Staying Dead, Book #1 in her Retrievers series. I’ve read all of her Cosa Nostradamus novels. Tricks of the Trade is Book #3 in her newest series, Paranormal Scene Investigations, which is based in New York City. Don’t worry if you haven’t read her other books because she writes in such a way that you can easily figure out what’s going on. If you like crime scene investigations and are interested in the paranormal (or vice versa) then check this one out. Like all good novels, it’s really about the people and relationships.
The PUPI (Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations) team, under the leadership of their two Big Dogs, Ben Venec and Ian Stosser, has been handed a couple of new cases to work. A side note: Ben is their hands-on supervisor while Ian works more behind the scenes to gain the team acceptance with the Cosa Nostradamus and law enforcement agencies.
“Magic isn’t an instinct; for most of us it requires forethought to pull current and direct it against someone else. That means Talent mostly don’t commit crimes of passion, but ones of forethought and malice. By the time we get called in? The crime’s been committed, and all we see is the tarry residue left in the aftermath,…PUPI did good work, though. We got people answers, closure. We were making sure there were consequences to actions.”
Case #1: The police have asked the team to take a look at the first one, a fatae who drowned in the Hudson River. Bonnie Torres and Pietr are initially assigned to this case. It appears at the scene that someone bound this unusual looking fatae and threw him in the river. Now they just have to figure out what he is and why he was dumped so they can figure out who or what did it. Easier said than done.
“The corpse looked almost human, if you could ignore the dark green skin that glittered like mica, but the arms were twice as thick around as mine, and all muscle, and extended like an orangutan’s down to its knees. And the head, which was hairless, and shaped like an anvil, almost.”
Case #2: A wealthy Null (non-magical) homeowner in Fieldston has hired the team to look into a robbery he’s sure was committed by a Retriever. Sharon and Nick are initially assigned to this case. When they arrive they find parts of the house completely trashed. Oddly the only items taken appear to have only sentimental value and no real intrinsic value. They can tell right away that this wasn’t the work of a Retriever, despite the homeowner’s insistence. This case is ever odder than the drowning.
“[Pietr said] ’It just doesn’t feel right. Retrievers are pros. They don’t leave behind any trace, much less damage.’
Sharon nodded. ‘Although, it could just have been the owner’s temper tantrum after being robbed.’”
As the team pulls together to use their various current talents to try to solve these cases, a couple of further complications make it more difficult. Bonnie and Ben continue to battle their literal attraction for each other, the Merge. Neither of them want to be bound and restricted by it but it’s always there, pulling their current and their beings closer. Their ability to fight it and keep it hidden from the rest of the team is becoming a real problem.
The second major complication has come to town in the form of a Roblyn, who is making minor mischief at Central Park, in the subway and all over the place. It’s not satisfied with what it’s able to create among these cynical New Yorkers, who are accustomed to having chaos around them, so it decides to target the team. What fun to create chaos with current. It’s bad enough having your inate current cause electrical items and electronics around you to go bananas or blow up, add a Roblyn to the mix and things can get extremely interesting (in a Chinese curse kind of way).
“I turned away, looking out the sole window in the room to give myself time to recover, and blinked.
A pigeon had just flown past the window…backward. Oooookay. Maybe J was right when he said I needed some downtime, maybe a vacation in the tropics somewhere…
I was still staring out the window trying to decide if I’d really seen that or just hallucinated it…”
As always, there are loads of twists and turns involved in Tricks of the Trade. I can never put down one of these books until I find out what happened, and this time was no different. The robbery in particular was impossible for me to figure out. If you’ve never read any paranormal books, Laura Anne Gilman’s are great ones to get started with. If you’re a paranormal fan, you’ll love them.
Tricks of the Trade was released on November 15, 2011, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click on the button to connect to them and purchase it.
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