P.I. Ethan Banning used to have a simple life; find people’s missing dogs, spy on cheating spouses, appease the odd morgue-haunting ghost. But his last case opened the door to a world he’d rather not know exists, and he just can’t get his life back to normal. He’s got a demon riding shotgun in his brain, a missing-persons case that’s turned into a murder investigation, and a mangy dog that might be the only thing keeping him sane.
This novella is Ethan’s first real starring role, and Clark makes the most of it. Told from the P.I.’s darkly humorous point of view, we finally get to see the true depth of the character, even as he seems to underestimate himself at every turn. Ethan has far more moral strength than he gives himself credit for- underneath his perhaps deliberately rough exterior, he has a clear sense of right and wrong and the stubbornness to resist the demon’s continual efforts to corrupt him. This is what makes Ethan such an appealing character; he tries to come off as a selfish opportunist, but his actions make it clear that he cares a whole lot more than he’s willing to admit.
The second main character in the story is the Voice; a cacodaemon that possessed Ethan on his last case. Ethan’s interactions with the Voice are more complicated than just trying to fight it off; in a way, they are dependent on each other for survival, which occasionally gives them common cause and makes the demon surprisingly useful. Still, the price far outweighs the benefits, and the P.I. is willing to try almost anything to purge his demonic influence.
This book is much darker than Clark’s previous Banning stories. The Voice’s efforts to subvert its host take some pretty horrific forms, and it’s probably best not read this book while eating unless you’re the kind of person who can slurp spaghetti while watching Bones. There are depictions of rape and violence, although Clark clearly doesn’t take these scenes lightly.
This is a very satisfying read for urban fantasy and horror fans. Again, my only major criticism is that Clark’s publisher has fallen down on the job with regard to proofreading. I look forward to Ethan’s next adventure!
My favorite line: “She wanted me to come with her. That alone made me suspicious. Women usually wanted me to go away from them.”
Author: Naomi Clark
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication: Damnation Books, LLC (March 1, 2011)
Author’s Website: http://naomijay.blogspot.com/
STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR AN INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY FROM AUTHOR NAOMI CLARK!