Tuesday, September 21, 2010

CBR Book#60: Living With The Dead by Kelley Armstrong

As with any books I review that are part of a series, there may be spoilers in this.

Hope Adams is an Expisco half-demon fathered by Lucifer. She enjoys chaos and has the power to recognize other supernaturals in the vicinity. Her boyfriend is Karl Marsters, Pack werewolf and jewel thief. He is her rock and touchstone, able to reign her in when the chaos threatens to render her helpless with ecstasy. Unfortunately, this novel doesn't revolve around them as much as one might like. The main character, though narration is shared between four characters, is Hope's friend Robyn Peltier. She is not a supernatural and has no idea that her best friend is a half-demon dating a werewolf. She would have been a good narrator in an earlier story where readers were more curious about the supernatural. At this point, if you've read all the previous novels, most of the curiosity has been sated.

In any event, Robyn has moved to Los Angeles following the death of her husband, Damon. He was gunned down when he stopped to assist a woman with a flat tire and had the audacity to be black while offering help. Robyn was devastated and moved to L.A. to become a public relations rep for a Paris Hilton-esqe Portia Kane. Portia is self-absorbed, rich by virtue of family, and has frenemies. One such frenemy is Jasmine. Portia and Jasmine lunch and Jasmine dares to wear a horrible outfit. Portia snaps a photo and sends it to Robyn's phone. Unfortunately, Portia unwittingly captures two supernaturals in the photo as well. One of the supernaturals, Adele, is willing to kill to make sure no one ever sees that photo.

Adele is clairvoyant and has been following Portia for some time. She tracks Portia to a night club and takes her cell phone from her. Then she murders her. Robyn finds Portia and chases Adele, making it seem as though she killed Portia and then fled the scene. So begins Robyn's attempts to clear her name with the help of Hope and Karl while they keep her in the dark about supernaturals. Another supernatural enters the mix when he shows up as a detective working Portia's murder case. This necromancer, Finn, doesn't know that there is a name for what he is or that there may be other supernaturals around.

The novel switches between Hope, Robyn, Finn, and Adele in point of view. It isn't really narration, but it does overlap and tell us what other characters in the same scenes miss. This was annoying. Half of the time I forgot whose point of view I was seeing the proceedings from and got confused. The different points of view also led to the reader knowing what was up but being frustrated by the multiple viewpoints that were dead wrong concerning what was going on. Plus Robyn was just flat-out annoying. I wanted her character to shut up and disappear. But she didn't and I had to get my Hope and Karl fix in-between her annoying clusters of action and stubbornness.

As I said earlier, Robyn would have been less grating, but not by much, if she had appeared earlier in the series. I already know about the supernaturals. I already understand this world. I can't see it through Robyn's eyes anymore. Finn was a necromancer for only one reason, and I suppose you could guess why. I would have liked to see his character taken under Jaime's wing or something instead of him being someone that blunders his way through necromancy.

Maybe I expected too much from Armstrong. Maybe it was the convoluted story. I don't know. I'm hoping that Waking the Witch will satisfy me where Living With The Dead failed to.

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