01/01/2009. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy
pub: Orbit. 326 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-706-8.
check out website: www.orbitbooks.net and www.lilithsaintcrow.com
Our befuddled editor sent me this under the impression that it was a 'Dante Valentine' novel which I am contractually obligated to do because I started the series. In fact it is a 'Jill Kismet' novel by the same author, Lilith SaintCrow, which, according to her website, is not a pseudonym as I first thought. Jill, like Dante, is pretty and tough and has a late lamented mentor man who taught her all she knows. Dante hunts demons and mixes with vampires while Jill hunts hellbreed and hangs about with werewolves. They are not entirely dissimilar.
Jill Kismet is a hunter and keeps the hellbreed in her city under control. They are night creatures and hang around in basement bars, mixing sometimes with human traders who deal for power and favours. Jill herself has a bargain with a breed called Pericles by which she can draw on hellish energy when the going gets tough. This power helps her leap high, punch hard and heal almost immediately if painfully when her ribs are broken and her arm sliced to the bone. But in return, she has to do sado-masochism sessions with 'Perry' once a month, her being the sadist. This is hard on her soul and no fun.
Jill works in tandem with the cops so when several are slaughtered on the freeway one night they call her in to investigate. Two F.B.I. Weres (werewolves) are also on the case as a rogue Were is reputedly involved. They are old friends but bring with them a young Were from the reservation called Saul Dustcircle. Jill starts off disliking him but this is a cops and robbers buddy story so they eventually come to mean a lot to each other. Ho-hum. Surely some feminist can come up with a tough woman character who treats men the way James Bond treats women? Anyway, it turns out the mass murderers are done by this rogue Were and a half-crazed female hellbreed, both escapees from the mad clutches of Navoshtay Niv Arkady, boss of New York, the baddest hellbreed there is and a great villain. I don't want to spoil the plot though.
This novel is generally unhindered by the overwriting that has for me hampered Saintcrow's prose in the past. I'm not a big fan of first person narration because sitting in one person's head for prolonged periods can get tedious, unless its Phil Marlowe. However, Jill is a pretty engaging character and spends less time than Dante describing her heels clicking, her hair rustling, her arm throbbing, her bracelets jingling and so on. She also doesn't spend nearly as much time or wordage, as Dante Valentine in agonising over her relationship with the creature that shares her bed. This means the story unfolds at a faster pace. The action scenes were beautifully done, very exciting and the plot moved swiftly towards a gripping and satisfactory climax. In fact, it was great.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA