Title: Hard Magic
Author: Laura Anne Gilman
Series: Paranormal Scene Investigators, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 1 May 2010
Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations
A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can't touch—crimes of magic.
My name's Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn't applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work—so off I went.
Two days later I'm a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.
The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We're sniffing out things they'd rather keep buried.
Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we're making it up as we go along...
I always find it hardest to write the reviews for the books that were 'okay,' but not fantastic or horrible. Those middle of the road books, with nothing that really stands out to me as either totally offensive or as beautifully brilliant. Which doesn't mean it's a bad book, not at all. There's potential here - and as I already have the second book to read I'll definitely be giving it a shot.
One of the things that I did love, immediately, is that the heroine - Bonnie - is bisexual. And it's a complete non-issue. She is, it doesn't matter, whatever. That was refreshing and nice. I liked that she could like women and men and no one cared one way or the other. Bonnie herself was somewhat of a rare character type. She wasn't exceptional, she wasn't bratty, she wasn't trying to prove something to everyone she ever met - beyond the stuff that we're all trying to prove to our mentors and the world. She was kind and cared, she has a subtle sense of humor, and she wants (and works) to stand on her own, but doesn't turn down help when it can help.
The downside of all that is that Bonnie is a bit bland. And despite the fact that I enjoy sex, and think about it frequently, and enjoy appreciating a fine form (male or female)...well, Bonnie thought about it way too much and at completely inappropriate times; like when interviewing a person-of-interest in their investigation. I did appreciate that she realizes it, is sort of reprimanded for it, and vows to not do it again. But it still irritated me a bit.
Bland is something I feel like I can say about the writing, too. There was nothing that really sticks with me. The magic in the world honestly kind of confuses me. It seems that anything can be done as long as someone wanted to really think about how to do it. There doesn't seem to be a lot of repercussions to using the 'current' - as they call it - except that some other Talent (magically inclined person) might take offense at it. I like my magic to have some more costs, I guess. I like my world a bit darker and more difficult.
The secondary characters that make up the rest of P.U.P.I are, sometimes, much more interesting than Bonnie. From Ian and his mysterious disagreement with Council to the rest of the teams abilities - I found Pietr the most interesting actually. I'd really love to know more about him. Benjamin, the other of the bosses, seems to have interesting connections that I would really like explored. Though I find it a little creepy the (possibly historical) connection he has with Bonnie, especially considering her sometime thoughts about him.
The mystery itself is interesting, in a CSI kind of way. There's a lot of learning here as this is a brand new type of magic being done. So we get to see them developing how they're going to go forward in their investigations, and learning to work with each other. I definitely enjoy the team aspect here the most.
If you're looking for a lighter urban fantasy, you can't go wrong picking this up. It's a nice start to a series, with a cast of characters that are definitely interesting enough to want to read more.
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