The gist: As a human immune to magic, Sophie is an anomaly at the Underworld Detection Agency, a governmental agency of sorts that helps paranormal beings blend into San Francisco society. Supernatural hijinks ensue when her alimony-seeking client, who happens to be a fire-breathing dragon, goes missing. Soon more underworld creatures disappear – and it seems as though a slayer is on the loose. When someone – or something – tries to take Sophie out with a wooden stake and silver bullets, she suspects that something far more sinister than a renegade Van Helsing is at work. And if she doesn’t nab the killer soon, all hell will break loose – literally! Why are Sophie’s friends and clients caught in the killer’s crosshairs? And why are the vampires unaffected? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
The romance: As with most paranormal romances, Sophie is torn between two supernatural hotties: A handsome fallen angle Alex Grace, and a hot guardian angel Will Sherman. In the last book I was really rooting for Alex, who may or may not have a hidden agenda for wooing Sophie. But in this new installment, she’s spending a lot more quality time with Will and the romantic tension is really heating up! For more about this yummy English gent, stay tuned for my next book boyfriend pick of the week.
Why it’s unique: The humor. A lot of the mainstream zany sleuth mysteries are a little too contrived. Usually these types of books (which are about as funny as an episode of Full House) involve the requisite zany granny, an eccentric sidekick and a snarky protagonist. But in this series, the humor isn’t forced. The author clearly has a silly side and it comes through in Sophie’s goofy antics.
The best friend: I would be remiss not to talk about Nina, an uber-sexy vampire who’s always up for a new adventure. Even though she’s older than Hugh Heffner, she can be totally clueless about men. In this book, she falls for a famous author who makes a killing off of proving the nonexistence of supernatural beings – including vampires! Despite this minor hangup, Nina is smitten with the fame-obsessed author and decides to write a vampire mystery series of her own. The author does a fine job sprinkling her stories with these funny little subplots without getting too silly. I giggled and snorted so much – my fellow gym rats must think I have Turrets.
The setting: Of all places to set an urban fantasy, San Francisco is the best! The underworld of supernatural beings can easily blend in with the diverse mix of yuppies, hippies, hipsters, eccentric artists and drifters. Hmm..sounds a tad bit like Austin. Hopefully one of these days I’ll get to explore this wonderfully eclectic city and check out some of Sophie’s hangouts like the Fog City Diner (also featured in my favorite comedy, So I Married and Axe Murderer) and China Town.
Favorite character: Of all the fantastical creatures in this book, my favorite character is Sophie. Normally the secondary characters (the quirky best friends especially) are my faves, but Sophie’s hilarious neuroticisms really won me over. Plus she’s from my generation, so I could totally relate to her mid-90s high school memories of Geo Storms and BUM sweatshirts. With her sardonic wit, fearless attitude and unruly red hair, I couldn’t help but picture Emma Stone as Sophie.
This book is best paired with: A stiff Bloody Mary and a swinging hammock.
Overall assessment: Once again Hannah Jayne delivers a tightly-plotted mystery jam-packed with humor, hijinks and off-the-wall characters. She does a fine job keeping the pace and tying all the plot threads together in the final pages. Fans of Juliet Blackwell, Charlaine Harris and Victoria Laurie can’t go wrong with a Hannah Jayne mystery. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into Sophie’s next big adventure!