Review: Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland

January 21, 2011 Books, Reading, Reviews 1 ★★★★

Review: Secrets of the Demon by Diana RowlandSecrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland
Homicide detective Kara Gillian has a special talent: she can sense the "arcane" in our world, and there's quite a bit of it, even in Beaulac, Louisiana. She's also a summoner of demons, and works on a task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Her partners are attractive and smart FBI agents, but they're not summoners, and they're not telling Kara why they are on this special force with her. 

To make things worse, Kara has pledged herself to one of the most powerful of demons-a Demon Lord-who helped save her partner's life, but now expects things in return. Meanwhile, she's trying to solve a string of murders that are somehow tied together by money, sex, rock music and...mud. But how can she concentrate on the case when she's not even sure who-or what-her partners are?
Series: Kara Gillian #3
Published by Penguin on 2011-01-04
Genres: Speculative Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
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Buy the Book at: Amazon

I received this book for free from The Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.


I’m going to start by just saying that despite the move to a new publisher, which allowed me to have this splendiferous new Kara Gillian novel, I still hate the cover art. Vehemently. Maybe it’s because the art for the two previous novels, Mark of the Demon and Blood of the Demon were so damn *classy* that I find the cover for this installment to be sorely lacking, or maybe it’s the weird “arcane” tat on (purportedly) Kara’s forearm that outs her as having grown up near a chemical waste plant (it glows, people…what IS that?). At the end of the day, I worry that the fact that these books very carefully do not dip themselves head-first into the cheesy which often obscures others of the urban fantasy genre is totally undermined by the cover art. Maybe I’m overreacting. It’s possible. I don’t normally get this bent out of shape about cover art.

Okay, I’m done. It’s crap, but don’t judge a book by its cover, and its what’s inside that counts, right? Right. So let’s get to that part.

Last we left Kara, there was something strange about her partner, Ryan, but no one was talking. Demons had accused him of being an oathbreaker, Ryan was starting to get more vocal about his dislike of Kara’s relationship with demonic lord Rhyzkahl, and Kara had just become Rhyzkahl’s personal summoner; and all those issues are still everpresent when we meet the new case that requires the task force’s special skills. This time, the perp is…mud. Think golems. (Of course, when I think golems, I think Lamb Chop and Shari Lewis, who authored a book of children’s scary tales where I first read of golems as a child. So that’s an interesting connection.) At any rate, a golem is targeting the members of a goth-rock band, and the inter-departmental task force of the Beaulac PD, the NOLA PD and the FBI are on the case.

Even better (worse?) something is trying to summon our summoner from our realm into theirs. Few clues here except we know it’s not Rhyzkahl. But it was enough of a taste that I’m worried, and I suspect it will play a big part in the next book.

Back in this book, as Kara researches golem murders that are at first glance unconnected, pieces begin to fall together in her investigation. Meanwhile, Kara’s personal life continues to be confusing. I have been Team Rhyzkahl since the beginning (I’m noticing a trend here in my reading – alpha males with antiquated possessive values who like their women outspoken and fiesty always seem to get my vote), and after the funny business with a demon who seemed very familiar with Ryan and his previous unexplored past, I was even less of a Ryan fan. My suspicion does not bank for one moment during this novel, but instead grows suddenly and exponentially when it is revealed that Ryan is potentially not human (no straight answers here), Zack (the other male in the task force party) knows things about Ryan he’s not telling, and Ryan possibly did something very, very bad in his past and is currently being punished.

Of course, Ryan would like to take this moment to completely explode over the fact that Kara and Rhyzkahl are seeing more of each other than a few coffee breaks (though, I suppose they could be drinking coffee in bed, I don’t know for sure) and to confess his own feelings for her. And Kara, logical gal that she is, is fond of Ryan and his normal, accepting, cop-guy ways, and welcomes this confession. Of course, she’s also wondering if there’s something more to her monthly aerobics with Rhyzkahl (who seems to be serious about this “come to my realm and be my queen” stuff), even as suspicion is planted on that front because our favorite demonic lord seems to be looking for something – a quest he resumes after exhausting our heroine and leaving her tucked in bed slumbering. Not a lot of Rhyzkahl this time, and I desperately wanted her to ask him about Ryan, even though he clearly has a grudge against the guy, just for some straight answers. And we still don’t know what he was googling that he isn’t sharing with Kara.

This one, more than any before it, whets my appetite for MORE. I was okay waiting for Blood of the Demon because Mark of the Demon had a good, solid ending. After the teasing about murky pasts in Blood, I was eager for Secrets of the Demon. After how Secrets ended, I am downright antsy for the next one. As in previous novels, Rowland melds the crime drama with the supernatural (this time bringing one more of her cop friends into the Big Secret), and the story unfolds allowing the reader to put together the pieces as Kara does. The ongoing storylines of Kara, Ryan, Zack and Jill (who are now sleeping together – cue the “Aww!” and yes, they do a bit of sing-song teasing about Zack and Jill – can’t let that opportunity pass by) continue to assist in Rowland’s world-building. Kara’s small circle of friends are becoming familiar to the reader, and my investment in relationships other than Kara’s (ie: Zack & Jill, Tessa & Carl) prove that this is becoming more than just “the adventures of Kara Gillian” – secondary characters are being developed, and other primaries, like Ryan, are taking to the stage as well.

I realize that this one was just released, so it’s going to be awhile before we see the fourth Kara Gillian book, but as I do with all my favorites, I waffle between pleading for more while trying to respect that the writing process is not a quick one, and if I want quality, I’m going to have to just sit on my hands and wait.

I hate waiting.


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