Temporary Agency Hardcover – Jul 1994
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this story responsibility takes the form of Lisa Black Dust 7 (coolest naming convention ever, by the way), an evil spirit with designs on Ellen's cousin, Paul. He has already compromised his own ability to resist, and Ellen attempts to save him. The fight is fierce, but Ellen does gain an ally in the process: Allison, a lawyer "specializing in demonic possession." The outcome is a messy draw, and the groundwork for the second part of the book, set roughly a decade later, is set.
By then, Ellen is out as a lesbian. In Temporary Agency sexual orientation is not the crisis some make of it today, but meeting Allison again gives Ellen a different sort of challenge. Sharp barriers remain between the pair as a result of Paul's ultimate fate, but their love overcomes all. The romance is an intoxicating blend of lust and compassion. Then it is off to face a supernatural threat with roots in their shared past.
I have been known to drop books with a two-part structure like Temporary Agency, but not this time. Ms. Pollack has written a masterpiece. I don't give 5 stars lightly, but for this book I do so without hesitation.
Earth Mother's Grace
This is how the book begins, perfectly mixing modern life and fantasy:
"When I was fourteen, a cousin of mine angered a Malignant One. It was a big case, a genuine scandal. Maybe you remember it. At the time, when it all ended, I just wanted to forget about the whole thing. But a couple of years have passed and I guess maybe it's time to think about it again."
"The Bright Being lived in the office building where my cousin Paul worked analyzing retail sales reports. I don't know how she got there, really. We never did find that out. I don't even know how long she was there. I mean, before Paul met her. Maybe she lived on that same spot long before the building went up. Maybe she even lived there for thousands of years, way before the Indians came. No one really knows how old the Beings are. Some people say -- I read this in a book, actually -- that the Bright Beings, the Malignant Ones and the Benign Ones, go back to the beginning of the universe. According to this Sacred Physics book, the Big Bang Story that broke open the cosmic ylem egg showered out the Beings along with all the quarks and tachyons and all the rest of them. The Beings came from a kind of impurity in the ylem, a sort of aesthetic flaw in the original story. So maybe the Ferocious One lived at that spot for millions of years, embedded in the granite of Manhattan Island, waiting for humans, for victims -- like my poor cousin Paul."
"Or maybe she never lived there at all until the building went up. Maybe the contractor summoned her, maybe her offered her space in her building in exchange for help in getting his contract bid accepted. I thought of this because of what happened later. And because of what happened with the Defense Department."
Each paragraph just keeps leading into the next. If it doesn't grab you, you're dead. It's set in the same world as Unquenchable Fire, but is not a sequel or a prequel, and is a very different book. In Temporary Agency, Ellen the narrator's cousin Paul dates a woman who turns out to be a Malignant One. The second part of the book, Benign Adjustments, is a little slower, and deals with the aftermath of what happened to Paul, and the scandal that followed.