Alex Connor has recently graduated college and is thrilled to have been elected as the Hughes County coroner/medical examiner in Pierre, South Dakota. When Officers Jones and Stone brings in a dead body and makes some cryptic remarks about it, Alex believes they are messing with her. But during the autopsy, a huge snake jumps out from behind the man's heart, wraps around the entire length of her arm, and becomes a living tattoo. By the time Alex pulls herself together, the male body has already sat up, picked his liver up from the weighing scale, and walked out the door.
Due to her past mental history, Alex has to work up the courage to report the missing body. Alex is sent to Precinct 13, a secret team of paranormal cops. This is where Alex learns that she was never insane or hallucinating in the past. Fairies, vampires, golems, witches - all the myths - actually exist. Her new coworkers are paranormals just like her. They encourage Alex to learn about her abilities, which includes speaking to the dead to solve crimes. In return, perhaps Alex could help Precinct 13 locate the missing body of a necromancer and figure out where all the zombies are coming from.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! Other than being a bit predictable at times, this story is extremely well done. In fact, this is probably the best Urban Fantasy story that I have read all year. The characters surrounding Alex are made up of a wide variety of creatures, humans with special paranormal abilities, and half-breeds. (An example would be the werewolf/vampire.)
Tate Hallaway has a crisp writing style which managed to reach out and grab me by the throat. Once I picked up this book, I never set it back down. I can only hope that the author learns to write faster, because I want the next installment NOW! Incredible! *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
I was immediately intrigued by the story line, as Alex Connor wins a bet and becomes the Coroner for the small town of Pierre. She doesn't have much to do for the first few months, until 2 police officers bring in a dead body and warn her not to cut open the rib cage. Of course Alex does exactly that, and before she knows it a large snake has leapt up from behind the dead man's heart, wrapped its length around her arm and become a living tattoo. Not only that, the dead body opts to get up and leave mid autopsy, remembering to pick up his liver before walking out the morgue.
When Alex tries to explain what happened, she is directed to Precinct 13; which turns out to be a unit comprising of supernatural beings who work on cases normal humans wouldn't know how to deal with. With a history of mental illness; resulting in Alex and her boyfriend Valentine trying to kill her step-mother after she convinces him her step-mum is a demon, Alex has spent time in a psych ward pumped full of meds whilst Valentine ended up in prison. Alex wanted to use her new opportunity to start a new life, but all the things she has seen and been told are just figments of her overactive imagination truly exist.
Alex is a somewhat weak character initially; unable to accept what is blatantly happening in front of her because of her past issues. She does however toughen up considerably, but I did question where her sudden onset of post mortem expertise and ability to analyse a crime scene and determine a cause of death came from when she never completed medical school, plus she's suddenly taking a lead in the investigation and picking up clues missed by more skilled colleagues.
I liked the introduction of Valentine, and his connection to Alex was a real surprise. He is little more than arm candy though, predominantly stuck in the bedroom or rushing around trying to save Alex when she has already taken control of the situation. The other characters introduced are intriguing but remain somewhat mysterious, as this author didn't really develop any histories or back stories apart from Alex. I thought this was a promising start to a new series. I liked the supernatural elements and there were some unexpected twists and turns; yet the heroine is quite wimpy and the overall pace somewhat slow. 3½ stars