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Saint City Sinners (A Dante Valentine Novel) by Lilith SaintCrow

01/05/2009. Contributed by Eamonn Murphy

Buy Saint City Sinners in the USA - or Buy Saint City Sinners in the UK

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pub: Orbit. 371 page paperback. Price: 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84149-670-2.

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Here's Dante Valentine back again with her boot heels clicking and her scar throbbing and her sword pulsing and her torn clothes flapping and her black molecule drip nail polish shining and her emotions emoting non-stop for long, long paragraphs until you wish the author was in the room so you could pick her up and shake her and shout, 'GET ON WITH THE BLOODY STORY!'

It's a damn good story when you penetrate the excess wordage to get at it. In the previous book, Dante took on a job as the Devil's right hand, aiding her demon lover Japhrimel to track down other demons who had rebelled against Lucifer. Japhrimel is Lucifer's eldest son and has been his chief assassin since time immemorial but he is Fallen (to Earth) because of his love for Dante.

I know this is fantasy but it seems unlikely to me that a demon would fall for anyone and it seems almost impossible that any sentient creature could love Dante Valentine who usually behaves like a spoilt six year-old. One of the rebels is Eve, who is an Androgyne and might have some of Dante's genes due to some events in a previous book. Dante does not want to hunt Eve and doesn't want Japhrimel hunting her neither, even though it is his job. This causes some conflict.

This book starts with Dante Valentine getting summoned to Saint City because her old friend Gabe needs her. Japhrimel agrees to postpone the demon hunt and go with her. Gabe's partner, Ed, has been killed and she needs Dante to track down the killers. The plot thickens and she finds herself entangled in a conspiracy of bent cops, mobsters and crooked pharmaceutical companies who are all out to kill her. The rebel demons are out to kill her, too, so life gets pretty interesting, especially when they capture Japhrimel and he can no longer protect her.

As with all the Dante Valentine novels, 'Saint City Sinners' has an excellent plot set in an imaginative and well-rendered alternative world where magicians, werewolves, vampires, gods and demons co-exist with poor, helpless humans. But were I not contractually obligated to read this book I might well have cast it aside after two chapters or less. Lilith Saintcrow is good at describing characters and action but wastes too many words on insignificant detail for my liking. It's a recognised literary technique used by Stephen King and his heirs to establish the reality of the world being described. It gets tedious if overdone. At least Dante Valentines's internal monologue was not as whiney and prolonged in this one as in its predecessor.

Undoubtedly, fans who liked the other books will like this one, too. As the whole quintet of novels forms one big continuing story new readers should start with 'Working For The Devil' and see if they like the style before buying the rest. The final, last ever Dante Valentine book is 'To Hell and Back' and it wraps it all up. On with that novel I will now get.

Eamonn Murphy

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