Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Infernal Affairs - Jes Battis

Infernal Affairs
An OSI Novel
Jes Battis
Urban Fantasy

This series is frustrating for me as a reader.  The last novel in the series (INHUMAN RESOURCES) was a clear stand-out from the rest (NIGHT CHILD, A FLASH OF HEX.)  This begins with a sequence that is best opening yet in the series.  Tess Corday, an occult investigator, and her team need to get to the non-occult morgue quickly.  It seems that one of the bodies there appears to be a dead child, but is really a demon.  And it’s most likely not dead.  It’s in everyone’s best interests to make sure an autopsy never even starts.

The scenes in the morgue are fantastic, fast-paced, and full of new and unexpected things.  The ‘child’ is, in fact, a demon called Ru.  The problem is, he’s lost his recent memory and has no idea how he ended up there.  Before the OSI team can stop it, though, a normate pathologist has made the first cut.  Not only does he have to deal with a ‘child’ waking up during an autopsy, he has to survive the arrival of the OSI team and a centaur-looking, bounty-hunting demon who is gunning for Ru, claiming that Ru is a renegade criminal from his home dimension.

As gripping as the first chapters are, the novel too quickly degenerates into subplots.  Some of these subplots are threads picked up from previous novels, some are new.  It feels like the author is trying to do too many things.  We see Tess at home, dealing with her unusual household (one teenaged vampire Magnate and one teenager infected with the vampire virus, but holding it at bay with medication.)  We see Tess go to her shrink at work.  We see Tess and Lucien her very much on-again necromancer boyfriend.  There’s so much going on that much of what happens seems rushed and truncated.  The final showdown here consists almost entirely of a conversation that manages to wedge in a lot of information about Ru and about Tess.  The ending scene, while it fits with Tess’ character, seems like a ploy to end the book abruptly on a cliffhanger-ish note. 

There are some really great things about this series.  The world that Tess inhabits is one in which the occult types have to hide the occult from the normates.  That builds in a lot of potential problems and twists.  The paranormal beings (most of them) are interesting and unique.  Minor spoiler, but the lawyers for the occult world are talking animals and this really jolted me out of the story.  I’m not sure why, but in a novel like this I’m ready to accept demons and vampires and other dimensions; while talking animals just seem childish, not whimsical.  This one starts out very strong, but loses its way somewhere around the midpoint.  I’m still interested enough to see where Tess goes from here, though, on the strength of the last installment.

Rating: 7
June 2011
ISBN# 978-0-441-02045-4 (paperback)


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