Friday, May 03, 2013

Trail of Dead – review

Author: Melissa F Olson

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.

Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first.

The review: Despite the fact that there were some vampire related revelations at the end of Dead Spots, the first book in this series, which I thought were hokey I was very impressed with Melissa F Olson’s opening novel.

The stories are set on a stage in which our world and the Old World live side by side; the Old World filled with witches, vampires and werewolves and hidden from view. This secrecy is maintained by cleaners, persons employed by the Old World to clean up messes prior to discovery and investigation by the human world. If things go wrong the vampires can step in and press the minds of the humans, but so much the better if the situation can just be cleaned.

Scarlett, the central protagonist, is the Los Angeles cleaner and is a Null, a rare breed whose very presence switches the magic off within a field they project. Vampires are alive, werewolves are human and witches can’t cast. Thrown into the mix is Jesse, a handsome LAPD detective who has stumbled onto the Old World and whose presence is tolerated by the leaders of the three breeds.

This volume continued the bucking of the trend that book 1 started in that the chapters flip between first and third person. So whilst we do walk with Scarlett, the annoying trend that suggests all urban fantasy has to be first person is buckled and this adds a welcome literary dimension to the process. The story itself continues on from threads developed in the last book with the crimes centred around Scarlett and this leads to some excellent character development.

Lore wise we discover that vampires must be invited into a home and the “exclusion field” (for want of a better term) is like a bubble. Unfortunately, if a null’s field crosses that bubble then the section where the fields overlapped is breached (until the human owners live in the house a while longer and make it a home once more) and allows vampiric entry.

Definitely an up and up series if this volume is anything to go by, I look forward to book 3. 7.5 out of 10.

This review first appeared, in a shortened form, on Amazon UK as part of the Vine Programme.


Unknown said...

Excelente post amigo, muchas gracias por compartirlo. Te quiero invitar a mi nuevo Blog de Cine de Terror que seguramente te gustará, espero tus comentarios en:

Un gran saludo, Oz.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Thanks Oz, I'll check your blog out.