by Lucienne Diver, fantasy (2011)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60928-492-3
Meet Tara Karacis. Her father is Pan, the god of drunken debaucheries, and her mother is one of the famous gorgons. Not that she ever believes that nonsense, especially coming from her weird family members. Fortunately for Tara, she is still gorgeous, her hair isn't a nest of writhing snakes, and she doesn't have fangs or anything. She just happens to be able to freeze people temporarily with her gaze. Her family are all circus people with one exception. Okay, two exceptions now that she has joined Uncle Christos in the PI business, much to the dismay of her other family members. When Bad Blood opens, Uncle Christos has gone MIA, supposedly on a search to discover himself, leaving Tara to bumble her novice rear end into the business alone. It isn't long before she finds herself embroiled in a dastardly mystery involving LA folks who - surprise, surprise - turn out to be actual Greek mythology figures. Apollo, the former Greek god who now passes himself off as a film star, is most eager to know her better even as she investigates the murder of Circe Holland, a Hollywood agent who had more enemies than LA has waiters.
Contrary to what I initially expected from glancing at the cover and reading the synopsis, this is not a typical urban fantasy romp. Oh yes, the heroine is the obligatory so-sassy-she's-so-icky-cute type and the hero is predictably arrogant and smarmy. But the plot is actually more of a... Stephanie Plum adventure, for the want of a better comparison, as this story blends crime investigation with humor. While Tara is fortunately not a perennial incompetent nincompoop like you-know-who, there is even a hint of a love triangle brewing here, and there is no resolution by the last page as to which man Tara will eventually, finally end up with. Then again, this book is part of a series, so that is not something completely unexpected. This story is all about the humor and some standard crime story drama - no vampire wars, no werewolf orgies, no dystopian shagging... nothing too dramatic, really.
On the bright side, this one is a painless read. It's entertaining and the humor often works, making this one a most pleasant pick-me-up read. The heroine has the nice balance of humor, sass, vulnerabilities, and competence. The men on the other hand are not too well-drawn, thanks to the heroine-centric nature of this story. Not that it really matters, as I personally am not too invested in Tara's social calender at this point. On the down side, this story, while entertaining, doesn't really stand out to me amidst a sea of other urban fantasy stories glutting the market at the moment. The heroine is a familiar archetype, her personality and sense of humor just exactly as what is required in the formula, and the plot unwinds in a manner that I can see coming from a mile away.
Bad Blood, therefore, is a pretty good read, but it fails to grab me by the throat and show me that it is different from the others and therefore deserving of my undying love and devotion. I could do worse, but I've had better. Maybe that reflects more on me than this book. but that's the way we fickle promiscuous readers roll sometimes.
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