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Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations - Book 1)

Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations - Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Laura Anne Gilman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description


A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch – crimes of magic My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college graduate, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It seemed too good to be true but I needed the work…

Two days later I’m a Private Paranormal Investigator – me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twenty-somethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic, answerable only to the evidence, the truth. The first job we get is a high-profile case – proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide.

Worse, there are people who want us to close up shop and go away. We’re sniffing out things they need to keep buried. Looks as if this job is going to get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along…

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1714 KB
  • Print Length: 339 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B008MNGUJM
  • Publisher: MIRA (15 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00597P1ZI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #111,664 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy and Enjoy 8 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ok I am on a roll here this first tale along with Sleight of Hand have become my most pleasant Kindle purchases in the last month.

The story line commands some thought and an open mind. There is a lovely touch of humour as one gets a developing work ethic amongst new colleagues.

The two sides of life are well exposed, the ones who think they are something special that they think they can rule the world and the other who rebel against this elitism but have to come together to protect themselves from other influences.

The good, the bad and the evil ones all come together in a “Paranormal” CSI/PI outfit. Patricia Cornwell on the other side - better than that but and independent company trying to prove themselves whilst learning that CSI and the Others can work for the good of them all.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paranormal Scene Investigations book 1 2 May 2010
By Sarah (Feeling Fictional) TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Bonnie has recently graduated from college and has started working for the newly formed organisation Private, Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (known as PUPI for short). PUPI is the first organisation of it's kind, started to investigate crimes within the magical community. Magic has never been used for forensic investigations before so Bonnie and her colleagues are going to have to learn on the job and make things up as they go along.

Their first job is to investigate the deaths of an elderly couple who both the police and the Council (leaders within the magical community) believe committed suicide. Their daughter is convinced there is no motive for suicide and hires PUPI hoping to find out what really happened to them. The team are going to have to work hard to prove themselves, especially when the magical community are just waiting to see them fail & someone seems determined to make sure that is exactly what happens.

Hard Magic is an enjoyable read and completely different to anything I've read before which I found refreshing. I thought that there would be more action than there was but this didn't stop me enjoying the story. The world Laura Anne Gilman has created is so interesting and populated with such a great selection of characters that I was drawn in completely. Every member of the team has different strenghts and weaknesses and an essential part to play in the investigations.

This book is set in the same world as Laura's Retrievers series - where Bonnie made her first appearance as a minor character - but you don't need to have read this series to enjoy Hard Magic. In fact this is the first book I have read by this author but I'll definitely be checking out the Retrievers books. Overall this was a great start to a new series and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to the PUPI team in future books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun magical detectives 21 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This as a parallel series to her Wren Retriever books, set in the same world. However I prefer this series to the Retriever books. There are more characters and so far more interest in being detectives. An interesting concept.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing, entertaining and fun 25 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Absolutely loved this - thoroughly enjoyable (and have quickly devoured the next two and am eagerly awaiting the 4th in this series). I found this to be fun - a normal straight-forward heroine with no angst and emotional baggage issues - and who is not a rude loud-mouthed bitch. In addition, for once she doesn't have "extraordinary" powers that means she and only she can save the world. She works as part of a team and the interactions between all of them are excellent. The characters are fun and believable. I could easily visualise them and the situations and quickly fell into the story. Her love relationships are an intrinsic part of the story and are well-done. They take more a back-seat rather than dominating the story, leaving you wanting more but that is all part of the build-up and the story.
While reading this and the next two in the series I found myself going around with a silly grin on my face and a "feel-good" feeling.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading Angel 2 May 2010
By Angela - Published on
This book was so original and entertaining. Although there really wasn't much action, or suspense until near the end, the whole premise of the book was entertaining enough not to need it. Bonnie is thrown into this group to try to help solve crimes commited by Talents (regular people who can use current to do magic).

Bonnie and the rest of the team spend alot of time trying to figure out how to take regular CSI routines, and find a magical way to perform them, to find magical clues. Once they get a case it's all on the line as they have to use those new spells to prove that a high-profile suicide was actually a high-profile murder. If they can't solve this one than Bonnie's new career, and only source of income, will disappear.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. They are all regular people with their own strengths, but put together in this group all of their strengths blend well to make a really great team. With only a little bit of sexual tension, and not much romance, it was a great investigation book. I'm excited for the next in the series since it was left wide open with alot of different directions that it could go. I definitely recommend this one.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading with Tequila 16 April 2010
By Jennifer Sicurella - Published on
I loved Hard Magic. It wasn't particularly thrilling or suspenseful, but so supremely interesting that I could not put it down. The set-up, the characters and the concept all screamed originality. Laura Anne Gilman put forth some good, old-fashioned creativity that made the story something different and therefore something special.

Magic users (aka Talent) can create any type of spell by using basic scientific logic. The team, P.U.P.I (Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations), uses these spells to find and analyze forensic evidence while investigating Talent on Talent crime.

I really enjoyed Gilman's method of naming the characters. Instead of over the top magically showy names, each character has an average Joe name. Bonnie, Ben, Nick. It relates well with the concept that these characters are average people, just with the ability to use magic. Each character on the team has their own strengths and weaknesses that they offer the group, making each better suited for different aspects of an investigation. Bonnie is a refreshing main character. While the book didn't have any blatantly sexual scenes, we learn that Bonnie is very comfortable with her sexuality. She's not one to be labeled, but she does like both men and women based on their personalities rather than their genitals. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a character not hung up on sexual morality while reading a book without explicit sex scenes.

I'm excited there is going to be further books building on what's started in Hard Magic as the story could really be taken anywhere. I'm interested to see if the focus shifts to more mystery or if it remains on the magical aspect of the investigations. Either way, Hard Magic is a fantastic start to a new series.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Team Building and Forensic Magic 101 kicks off Gilman's Retrievers spin-off 23 May 2010
By melindeeloo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Laura Anne Gilman returns us to the magical New York of her Retrievers series - a world in which there are Talents - individuals who can manipulate 'current' (electrical energy) to perform magic. Hard Magic takes a step back in time as we see how Bonnie, a 20-something, paranormal investigator and eventual next door neighbor to Wren, gets her start in the investigating biz.

I did enjoy Hard Magic though as a series starter there are some growing pains. The mystery - an apparent dual suicide with no mundane evidence of murder - takes a backseat to teambuilding and Forensic Magic 101, as Gilman sets the stage and introduces the cast. Bonnie is as interesting and likable as she was in the Retrievers book - although she is a bit too much 'on the make' here for me, she pretty much considers every new character (male or female) as they're introduced as a potential bed partner - I hope Gilman tails back on this a bit.

Keeping the background story pretty lightweight, Gilman focuses her effort in character development. She manages to create distinct supporting players in Bonnie's powerful and intriguing bosses, Bonnie's mentor, and in Bonnie's many and varied teammates each with their various magical and personal strengths. And Gilman also spends some time starting to build the relationships between the team members of the fledgling agency.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original Ideas 18 Feb 2011
By BookGirlR - Published on
When you read as much as I do sometimes stories can all start to blend together. This is especially true with novels of the paranormal. It seems as if every author is writing stories about vampires, werewolves and the ditzy girls who love them. I find myself desperately wishing for something new. Hard Magic made me sit up and pay attention. Finally, a paranormal novel that isn't about tragic love or alpha males who have to swoop in and save the poor tragic heroine ten times per chapter!
I loved Bonnie and the other members of PUPI. I was a little put off with Bonnie's situation with her mentor. I wish that Gilman had found a way to allow Bonnie to take care of herself instead of having her mooch off of J for most of the book. It would have been easier for me to see her as a strong young woman if she had been struggling to support herself instead of living in the lap of luxury on J's dime. Despite this one little downfall (which is just my own personal opinion and may not be a downfall for other readers) I loved this book. Read it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Starting Point in Gilman's Cosa Nostradamus Universe 23 Jan 2011
By Jvstin - Published on
I've mentioned before in previous reviews of mine that Urban fantasy is a genre that I find hit or miss. Certainly its popular, authors are doing well cranking them up, but many urban fantasy novels feel like either romance novels with not well worked out paranormal elements, or feel like they are bandwagoners trying to get in on a hot sub-genre. And, I generally like my landscapes more fantastic and bigger. But I am willing to dip into the sub-genre now and again, if for no other reason than to keep abreast of how it is evolving.

Laura Anne Gilman is an author whose work I have not read before, but she has popped up in mentions of blog posts and social media by authors I have varying levels of contact and friendship with. So, I was delighted to enter and win a contest for a copy (signed as it turns out) of one of her books: Hard Magic

Hard Magic starts a new novel in her "Cosa Nostradamus" universe. Seven books in, there is not a lot of explanation of how the universe works, but clues in the book provided by good writing from Gilman allowed me to piece together that Hard Magic and its previous novels are set in a modern-day urban fantasy universe where magicians, and nonhuman races ("fatae") secretly live in a world ignorant of their presence. A major organized faction of practitioners (Talents), called the Council, try to organize the magical community. Opposing them are lonejacks, who are talents who try and make their own, anarchic way in keeping their powers secret and doing the business of making a living.

Bonnie Torres, a character who had appeared as a minor character in previous Cosa Nostradamus books, gets center stage in Hard Magic. With a Council patron, and a lonejack sort of independence, she nicely encapsulates the dichotomy between these factions as she tries to make a living in NYC.

When Bonnie gets a call to attend a job interview she never applied for, she is soon sucked into PUPI--Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations. She joins a number of other misfit Talents similarly recruited, and together learn to harness their powers for magical forensics.

Oh, and of course, they DO get a case, investigate the strange suicide of a prominent pair of Council members that may very well be something more than a suicide. And in the process, Bonnie and her new friends stir up a number of very dangerous hornets nests in the process...

As an expatriate New Yorker, I felt like a slice of home reading this book, as, with the exception of a few teleports to Boston and Chicago, the entirety of the book takes place in New York City. From jokes about the GWB to pumpernickel bagels, Gilman brings forth the spirit of New York. Bonnie is clearly not a native, and we get a sense of her trying to understand the city, like a cat, has decided to adopt her. Unlike some urban fantasy that I have read, the setting is in harmony with the fantastic elements and they work together (much like, say, Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron).

The central mystery is a fair one by the standards of the universe. More than the mystery, though, the writing and the text show that Gilman is even more interested in exploring the characters. While we only follow Bonnie's point of view and her mind, Gilman does allow us to slowly reveal aspects of her employers and fellow employees. By the end of the book, we have a good handle not only on Bonnie but also her evolving relationships with PUPI, and her mentor J as well.

The advantage for Gilman to start a new series within her Cosa Nostradamus universe is that it provides a new entry point for people wanting to explore a new urban fantasy universe. If you are looking to try some urban fantasy, or more especially if you are a urban fantasy junkie, I recommend you give Bonnie Torres and the PUPI investigators a try.
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