Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review - Dead Spots (JS)

Dead Spots by Melissa F. Olson
I saw this while browsing for books for my Kindle, the reviews were enthusiastic and as it seemed to contain a lot of good elements with quite a clever idea, I thought what have I got to lose. 
This is the description:
Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.
But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact does not sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.
In this book, we are presented with the idea of a ‘Null’ someone who can make those ‘magic’ creatures around them human again, and stop spells from happening. Scarlett the main character is employed by the’ Old World’ as a sort of cleaner, someone who comes along after an incident and removes any trace to a human eye that anything odd had happened at all, she has the aid of a handy incinerator for the extra big things. She shares a house with a vampire called Molly, who loves the way that Scarlett makes her human as she can then enjoy the things that she misses - food, shopping and apparently watching daytime television. 
So the story proper starts with a triple murder, and Scarlett is called to start the clean up, this is not possible, and Scarlett soon realises that she is being implicated as the murderer, especially when another body is found and she finds her life at risk from the people she works for.
It seems a great idea, you have vampires, werewolves, witches all living in modern day LA, You have three main characters, Scarlett, Eli a werewolf who was in an on/off type relationship with Scarlett and Jesse who was a human policeman who Scarlett was forced to tell about the ‘Old World’. The POV changed from Scarlett to Jesse from chapter to chapter.
After 60 odd pages in, I was struggling. I found Scarlett, Eli and Jesse annoying, there were romantic complications between them, which did not really add to anything, and the plot seemed to wander around without any focus or pace.  Though the main ones were wooden, the supporting characters I did like. You have Will the leader of the werewolves, Dashiell the head of the Vampires and his partner Beatrice, Kirsten the head witch, Molly and the evil Ariadne,  these were all interesting characters who added to what scene they were in.
I did nearly give up, but I have a stubborn streak when it comes to books and I stayed with it and I was pleasantly pleased that I did. The pace of the story quickened and the characters seemed to become more natural. You found out what had caused Scarletts trauma and you understood why she was as she was, I even began to like her!
The plot was brought together to a rather rapid conclusion but it worked well and then right at the end the reader is thrown a shock, which is obviously to get you to read book two. I first thought it was unexpected then I remembered a clue from earlier in the story, which is very easy to miss. 
After reading the book, I still do not understand some of the rave reviews about this book, maybe I am having the same problem that Rob did with ‘Prince of Thorns’ that everyone seems to love it apart from me, I enjoyed it in the end but it was a struggle.
I would say that if you stay with it then you will find a decent story for your trouble, this is the first book this author has written after all so maybe I am being a bit tough. I will probably give the second book a read just to see.
7 out of 10