Review by Ian Keogh
When we first meet Los Angeles investigator for hire Janie ‘Strummer’ Mercado she’s in the bathtub pulling a bullet from her side and seemingly not much worse for wear. Soon after that we meet her partner who’s a Djinn, or technically half-Djinn, but as far as humans are concerned there’s little difference when it comes to the magic he can perform. A thoroughly entertaining first chapter offers a few answers, but also sets up that she’s being targeted by right wing nutjobs, has a secret most wouldn’t believe anyway, and ends with someone who’s also more than acquainted with strangeness in their life.
Rooting the supernatural incidents in normal LA isn’t a completely original idea, but what raises this above most other such efforts is Eric Palicki’s ability to intrigue, deliver his characters in bite-size segments, serve up some snappy dialogue and hook readers from the start. That’s coupled with Wendell Cavalcanti’s neat black and white storytelling, supplying everything that’s necessary plus a little bit on top. Well, a whole lot on top actually, because Strummer heads to places where the unusual is par for the course, and yet Cavalcanti makes a giant amphibian with teeth to match crouching in a basement just another stop on the tour.
After the introductions Palicki makes good use of mythology to round out the supporting cast, while picking up on other supernatural subjects to provide the threat. Strummer’s mystical abilities prove useful when solving cases for humans, but when it involves the things humans would rather not know about, it forces her to stretch her capabilities. Surprise is the order of the day, sometimes with who people are, and sometimes with what they can do.
By the end the mystery has been satisfyingly solved, but that’s not really the point, which is to immerse yourself in the world Palicki and Cavalcanti build and enjoy the tour. More. Soon. Please.