Sunday, May 15, 2011

Inhuman Resources - Jes Battis


Inhuman Resources
An OSI Novel
Jes Battis
Ace

Urban Fantasy

This is the third novel in this series (NIGHT CHILD, A FLASH OF HEX) and as far as I’m concerned, it’s far and away the best yet. The author has created a world in which magic and the occult exist, but are still mostly hidden from the ordinary citizen. Tess Corday and her partner, Derrick, work for CORE, investigating supernatural crimes. They have their individual paranormal skill sets, but they’re aided by labs and equipment created to detect traces of supernatural beings. Tess’ mother was a witch of some power; her father, she recently discovered is a full-blood demon. A demon in the bloodline is bad enough. Having a demon father, a witch mother, and a so-so level of talent is just plain odd.

Still, Tess does the best with what she has, and as the story begins, she’s called to a crime scene. A necromancer is dead, murdered. That’s almost unheard of, period. Add to that the fact that there’s no trace of anyone/anything else in the apartment, and the fact that he’s wearing armor from the 1500s, and the not-inconsiderable fact that he was a legal activist and wielded huge power, both political and necromantic in his own community, and it becomes a case with unknowable consequences. Unknown to her superiors, Tess has been having an off-and-on affair with Lucien, a necromancer and student of the murder victim. This kind of relationship is forbidden for all kinds of reasons. Now that Lucien has been designated the liaison for the necromancers, he and Tess will have to work together on this. Necromancers have always been secretive and devious, and this is no exception. It’s becoming quite clear to Tess that she knows next to nothing about necromancers in general, or about Lucien in particular.

A painting by Diego Velazquez, Las Meninas, is a large part of the case. If you’re not familiar with the painting, you owe it to yourself to check it out online. The author does a superb job of describing the painting and its history, but nothing beats seeing it. Also, be sure to check out the re-interpretation by Picasso, which, while also described well, is more difficult to visualize.

As is usually the case in this series, Tess spends some time being sidetracked by other issues, including her less-than-normal home life. This time, though, it all gets tied together by the end, and seems right. At one point, Lucien must take Tess to the necromancer’s hidden city - inaccessible to those who don’t belong there - and this is the stuff of high fantasy. It’s fascinating to see the home turf of the ‘other side’ and it opens up some very interesting possibilities for future novels. Just as a side note, however, I’d prefer to see the use of the term “speculum” restricted to certain medical practices. Your mileage may vary on this. This installment is fascinating, fast-paced, and ties up some loose ends from previous novels while leaving open some tantalizing new possibilities for the future.

Rating: 7 ½
June 2010
ISBN# 978-0-441-01884-0 (paperback)

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