Warning: Mild Cliffhanger (Why even bother ending the book this way?)
Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and anything supernatural is instantly neutralized—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t cast the slightest spell. Scarlett uses her status as a null to cover up crime scenes for Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, helping them keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.
One night Scarlett gets caught at the scene of a grisly murder by the all-too-human LAPD cop Jesse Cruz, who blackmails her into a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the supernatural underworld if she helps him crack the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dashiell, the city’s chief vampire, who fears his whole empire is at stake. And when the clues start to point to Scarlett herself, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.
“Nulls are the wrecking ball of the supernatural world: we swing in and out of situations, creating damage and chaos. But sometimes in a really useful way.”
I mostly enjoyed this one. On its own, each part of the book isn’t very distinctive. The combination of those parts work, though. I found myself enjoying reading this more than I would have thought, actually. Lately, I’ve been quite tired of stories where they go off being a detective to solve a crime, especially when they have no business in doing so. This hit that annoyance, honestly, which makes me a bit surprised that I enjoyed reading this.
The plot is action packed without feeling rushed or having competing interests. Olson had a very specific plan on what was to happen in this book. It was frantic, but things like sleep got added too, because people cannot typically investigate a crime for 3 days straight. While I didn’t exactly enjoy the detective bits, I appreciated the way Olson wrote it.
Scarlett is a very jaded main character. Has had a hard life, has had to do a lot of morally and ethically questionable things. She no longer cares about that and just does her job. Which isn’t actually being a detective, in case you didn’t get that from the first paragraph. She hides crimes. Why is she investigating these murders? I don’t know. It bugs me.
There is also a love triangle. It is definitely the worst part of this book. For once in urban fantasy, the main character already starts out with a love interest before the book begins. (This is the best part of this romance, sadly. I promise.) She actually spends a lot of time in the book trying to convince herself she doesn’t like this dude she has been sleeping with, he only wants to use her for her power, etc. It is so frustrating. Then enters this detective that doesn’t need her for her power, and is my personal vote for “most likely to get Scarlett killed” award. She spends another decent portion of this book trying to talk herself into liking him. Also incredibly frustrating to read. The only non-frustrating thing about this is that despite an initial reaction of jealousy from both parties, by the end they are at least cordial with each other.
The world-building is decent, if a bit deficient. She does a good job of explaining what is known. She goes into a whole scientific explanation for why supernatural creatures exist. Each branch of the evolution tree isn’t exactly explained what they can do though, not all the way. I feel like I was left being expected to make some assumptions. And, everything new was met with a whole lot of shrugging, to be explained at a later time because who cares.
Overall, while I didn’t like all the individual parts, I enjoyed the whole. A good start to the series.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Scarlett Bernard series page!