by Jes Battis
Cover Artist: Timothy Lantz
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441016020
Date: 27 May 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Tess Corday and her partner Derrick Siegel have been called to a mystical crime scene. The Medical Examiner is on the scene along with the rest of the Central Occult Regulations Enterprise (CORE) forensic team of Vancouver. The problem is a dead vampire, well dead for the final time anyway. Second problem is there's no forensic evidence to be found other than what the body can tell them. It's murder and Tess and Derrick have been assigned the case. This time Tess has to work it by the book or she may find herself out of CORE and ex-CORE employees don't seem to last very long once they leave the company. Can she solve a case by the book? How hard can it be?
Tess is the oldest Level 1 ever. She's got to pass her review or she could find herself out of a job and maybe worse. She knows she has to solve this case and do it within the rules with all the proper paperwork. But when the case involves a sexy necromancer, dealing with vampires, and a young girl being pursued by demon hitmen, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the case and find answers and she doesn't care how.
This is a police procedural pure and simple. But the universe in which it takes place is complex with the interconnectivity of all the various nonhuman factions. Yet, as usual, the humans are mostly, if not completely, unaware of their demonic neighbors and co-workers. Battis manages to make the world come alive as a workable universe with infinite complexity.
Tess as the central character has to hold the story together and she's a complex person with lots of depth so she works well. Derrick, her partner on the force, is junior to Tess, but also fully developed and a good foil for Tess. They work off each other in personality, humor, and the dynamics of a comfortable work pair, as well as good friends. Tess and Derrick may go down as the new Cagney and Lacey -- competent officers with heart, courage, and integrity.
The mystery is complex with some impressive twists and turns some of which are more than a bit weird but again make sense within the context of the world. As a first in a series it's definitely worth reading. There's a lot to like and I look forward to the next book.