Thursday, January 19, 2012

Redemption Alley by Lilith Saintcrow - review

Redemption Alley
Lilith Saintcrow
Jill Kismet #3
dark urban fantasy
cover - I'm going to admit here, that I read Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series, started it when Working For the Devil first came out - so the first two of that series I have with the original (#1) and original cover #2 ; then the third and rest of them came out in a new style - reminiscent of this cover, only the main color was red (and white). I was a fan of the original cover style, but have to admit that the newer covers and this series' cover are both original. Having said that, I do like the covers of this series - the overall blue tone (blue being my favorite color ever) and the general feel of the cover. It also helps (for me) that the first book in Jill Kismet came out in the same cover theme that the last book has, so it's all a good look. but click on the above two links (the originals) and tell me - aren't those some cool covers?
blurb via GoodReads; 'When her police contact asks her to look into a "suicide", she suddenly finds herself in a labyrinth of deception, drugs, murder -- and all-too-human corruption. The cops are her allies, except for the ones who want her dead. The hellbreed are her targets, except for the ones who might know what's going on.'
Well, what can I say here that hasn't been said before? Maybe... combine Lilith Saintcrow's brain, some ink and paper, a kick-ass character, and some crazed hellish villains and you have a book that's an intense reading ride. All of the books that I've so far read by her have been enjoyable reads, and she does not shy away from doing horrible things to her characters. But with each book, I've found a strange combination of almost poetical writing and horror story aspects - it's like your nightmare by a lyricist. Like your worst nightmare written to a beautiful melody. (haha - that's as poetic or lyrical as I'll ever get. just pops out once in a blue moon) In other words, it's hell-a-fun in a kind of heart pounding way. Redemption Alley is right up there - even surpasses some of her other works for sheer action. Jill Kismet starts out the book in a fight and rescue and doesn't get one break until the the book has ended. I might have rolled my eyes at the sheer non-stop action with other writers or characters - really, how much can one person take? But somehow, it's just fun for me to read the complete mayhem that's Jill Kismet's life, trying incessantly to fight off the hellspawn and evil doings in her city while trying not to go over the edge herself. Saintcrow can take a plot and make you feel like you're right in the middle of everything, seeing, hearing and smelling what's going on. She's able to write a story that in other hands would be melodramatic, but in her words and style I enjoyed every minute of the chaos that Jill Kismet is fighting.

**If you haven't read any of the novels, there might be a couple of minor spoilers for the previous two books**
For this chapter in Kismet's life, Saul (her were-kitty, or cougar) is out of town, so even though she's just gotten used to having Saul as backup (and tried to fight the attraction in the previous story) she's feeling the lack of her man. And her hell-strength donor, Perry is being strangely quiet and cooperative, or cooperative quiet, so she's a little creeped out and suspicious of him.

**end of possible minor spoilers**

As the blurb says, there are police officers and others dropping like flies. Sudden deaths and suicides. Monty, her main police contact asks her to check out a former partner's death,an apparent suicide, on the down low. Something doesn't feel right to him. So against her better judgement she agrees, even though it's not a paranormal event - it's a mundane thing. Seems like the moment she agrees to this, things go from bad to worse. Suddenly more people are dying and someone is trying to murder her. Everywhere she goes, it seems she has to deal with an attack that's more than the usual - these are serious attempts on her life, and if it weren't for her extra hell-strength (via Perry) she would have died a few times. As it is, it slows her down a bit, and seriously pisses her off. Might piss me off too, I guess - must suck when people try to kill you over and over. (Glad we don't have to go through that, right?) Since someone seems to know where she's going, she suddenly can't even trust the police, the people who are usually there when she needs them.

An interesting new character is introduced when Jill makes a visit to the barrio, to try to question one of the local gangs. Not a very likeable guy, but someone who just might continue to make an appearance in the series? maybe. There are also some repeat appearances by the weres of the city - I like the way Saintcrow describes them - the way they act when Jill is hurt, and homey they are in general.

Reading a Lilith Saintcrow book is never a happy ever after experience - but even so, there's enough good things that happen (even if it's not obviously, ecstatically good at first) that I'm not depressed after reading a book by her. There've been books that seem to be such downers, that I can feel myself sinking into the depths of despair while reading. (tried to read some Ann Rice books and they were sooo damned bleak...) I think that the combination of the characters' fighting spirits and the overall attitude of people in her books make you feel that even though you know things can explode in a hot minute, there's also people fighting for the greater good - so overall, you feel like there's a thin thread of hope buried in all the chaos that's going on in the Kismet books. (that was a very long sentence - thank goodness this isn't for a grade, lol) So while Saintcrow doesn't necessarily give out HEA endings, she does write satisfying endings to her books. They work.

Next in the series is Flesh Circus.

Lilith Saintcrow also writes under the name Lili St.Crow (Strange Angels, YA series) and Anna Beguine (I haven't read these yet)

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