Book Review: Redemption Alley, by Lilith Saintcrow

Orbit Fantasy/Horror,
311 pgs.

Redemption Alley, Book 3 (Jill Kismet)This is the third book in the Jill Kismet series. In order to explain the events of the third books, I suppose I should give you a general idea of what the first two were like: a) Traditional romance where the Heroine must choose between two men, one of whom is a schmuck, and the other one who is not a schmuck. b) An Urban fantasy featuring the now very common Bad Ass Babe who may or may not have supernatural abilities, and may or may not be involved in a criminal justice field. c) A Dark Urban Fantasy where the hero/ine has made a Faustian bargain in order to fight crime/obtain justice/be really kick ass. d) Traditional romance in which the male and female protagonists fight and bicker constantly because this is a sign that they’re really meant for each other. The Jill Kismet series is obviously a thing of many parts, many of them done before. (But the same can be said of any fantasy or even mainstream work of fiction.)

The world building in this series involves a complete flip flop from the rationale behind Saintcrow’s previous series featuring a bad ass babe with supernatural powers. In the Jill Kismet books, demons are irrevocably malignant, are a common and expected presence, and are always involved in organized crime. They also seem to be considered non-citizens, and it’s the job of people called “hunters” to police them. Of course “policing” is more like “hunt them down and kill them” in most cases.

Aside from these details, and a religious cult called “Sorrows” human history has gone along the same lines as it did in our own history for the most part. (Which I have a hard time believing. Then again I have a hard time believing that Saintcrow went where she did in the Dante Valentine books…which is a meta-article for another day.)

Like the Dante Valentine series, in addition to demons we have vampires and were-creatures, though Saintcrow has apparently decided to take the vampires and combine them with fast zombies and some kind of slimy bendy mutant from X-Files. Her were-creatures are apparently following the recent Urban Fantasy trope of identifying them with Native Americans (they live on reservations, generally speaking.)

Book three finds our heroine in the middle of a mission shortly after the events of the last book which found Jill fighting Chthulu a Chaldean Elder God, and nearly being sacrificed to it. She’s asked by one of her police contacts to look into the mysterious “suicide” of his former partner. Since she doesn’t detect anything at all supernatural for her to be investigating, she’s a bit flummoxed about what to do. That is, until people start trying to kill her. And the bodies in general start piling up. This of course gives her some additional motivation.

Notably absent through most of the novel are Saul, Jill’s were cougar boyfriend (who is back on the rez taking care of his dying mother) and Perry the demon crime lord she has a contract with. (Part of the irony that makes this series Dark Urban Fantasy is the fact that Jill made a deal with a demon for greater strength and supernatural powers in exchange for services rendered so she can…hunt down people who have made similar deals with demons.) Jill is not speaking with Perry as of the sequence of events in the previous book, so she ends up floundering through a very sticky, complicated situation involving corrupt cops, extremely corrupt political figures and a “body farm” where illegal immigrants are being killed for their organs because she is not speaking to the one person who could probably give her information. (As he points out in a later confrontation.)

The book is a very fast paced read, and I finished it in only a few hours. The action scenes were very exciting, and I think I would have liked the book more if I actually liked the main protagonist more. Some of the plot points and obstacles were obvious or contrived (for example, the aforementioned spat with Perry resulting in Jill not finding out the key details of the plot for instance.) But despite my nitpicking I did enjoy the book enough to finish it.

Jill Kismet #03 Redemption Alley on Amazon

Jill Kismet #03: Redemption Alley on Powell’s Books


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Filed under book, fantasy, Lilith Saintcrow, Review: Book, romance, urban

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