The Premise: Kara Gillian is Summoner – someone who has the ability to call demons from a parallel plane. She’s been studying and training unbeknownst to the outside world under her mentor/aunt for ten years, and has gained enough skill to work without assistance. Kara’s day job is equally important to her. She’s a detective who has just been promoted from Property Crimes to the Violent Crimes Division at the Beaulac Police Department, just as their town’s serial killer, the Symbol Man has reappeared. The Symbol Man dumped several bodies all over town before disappearing three years ago. All races, all ages. The only connection between the victims is that they are transients (so no one seems to care they are missing), and a the same symbol is found somewhere on all their bodies. Kara knows that the symbol has arcane significance, but she has no idea what it is. Ever since she saw the body of a victim when she was a beat cop, Kara has wanted in on this case. Now she’s surprised to find she’s the lead investigator and she finally has a chance to use her hidden abilities to catch the killer.
My Thoughts: I’ve been pleased this week to be reading books that had great pacing. It starts off with a bang:
In Mark of the Demon, something was always going on, and the movement of the story from one scene to the next was seamless. With Kara investigating murders, interacting with demons, hiding her identity as a summoner, and dealing with men in the police department and FBI, it was only reluctantly that I put the book down. If I didn’t have other review deadlines, I’d have read this sooner, because the first page really hooked me. It’s this kind of book that had me enthusiastically informing my husband what’s going on despite him trying
to sleep to concentrate something else.
The “About the Author” page says that Diana Rowland has worked in law enforcement as ”a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant”. It shows in the writing. I found the scene with the medical examiner in the morgue fascinating (I did always wonder about bone dust. Suspicions confirmed), but the author’s experience shows elsewhere as well. The way Kara handled herself with all the male testosterone in the police department amusing and admirable.
Kara’s character is somewhat isolated. With her background as a summoner she has to be, so the list of secondary characters that Kara is familiar with is extremely sparse. The only person she feels close to is her aunt, but in Mark of the Demon Kara is introduced to an FBI agent and to the Demon Lord Rhyzkhal who I think will become more significant as the series progresses. I look forward to reading how things will turn out in later books and there is plenty of room for relationship growth.
Demons are a large part of the story, and Kara summons a few types into our world. Information about their society and how summoning works is dispersed to the reader in bits and pieces as things happen, and it’s very absorbing stuff. What really fascinated me was the complex sense of honor that has such a huge part of their world. It’s only this sense of honor that enables summoners to stay alive when they bring these creatures into our world, as long as they stay within the agreed upon rules.
The mystery of whodunit took me some time to figure out. I had my suspect about one quarter of the way through the book, but that was blown out of the water several pages later. It’s only when a secondary character fills us in on some back story that I figured out who the Symbol Man was and by that time the book was mostly done. I found out earlier than Kara did, but it was believable that she wouldn’t have figured it out by then, and the killer ensured she’d look in the wrong direction.
Overall: A very satisfying police procedural with demons and summoners thrown in. Kara Gillian is very human, despite her abilities, and it’s nice to read an urban fantasy with this type of protagonist and where the case is the focus and magic is one of the tools to solve it. Recommended.
I’ve been trying to think of another author who writes police procedurals with supernatural elements and I came up with C.E. Murphy’s Walker series. I certainly think if you are a fan of that series, you will enjoy this one.
This book will be released June 23rd, 2009.
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