Publisher: Roc, 2009
Sub-genre: Paranormal, Urban fantasy
Read the full, spoiler-free review here.
This book is the rarest of gems: an urban fantasy novel that doesn't involve vampires, shapeshifters, or faeries. Every single character is human, and the supernatural aspects don't necessarily translate to being able to kick the bad guys' heads in a dozen different ways without breaking a sweat. In short, Blue Diablo is what you need to check out if you've been tiring of the angsty bloodsuckers overpopulating your nearest bookstore.
I loved the way the magic worked in Blue Diablo. It was subtle, and required work on the part of the person using it. When Corine reads objects, she not only has to concentrate on it, the object burns her hands, leaving a whole mess of scars on her palms. Chance's luck works out nicely for him, but usually puts anyone with him at a disadvantage (ie: the falling anvil will miss him... and hit the person standing next to him). Officer Jesse Saldana, who comes in to help them, is an empath, and sometimes has problems telling his own emotions apart from other peoples'. You'll note none of these abilities are big, flashy things. None of them are throwing fireballs or flying. Unlike superheroes, these powers are subtle things, and aren't generally a whole lot of use when it comes to actually facing down anyone with malicious intentions.
What else makes the book stand out? The setting. With flavours of Mexico and southwest USA, this is a welcome change from the gritty Chicago-esque feel of most of the urban settings we see. There are plenty of little southwest touches in there to add flavour, and that flavour is delicious.
There's of course a complex love triangle in here, with some wonderful chemistry between Corine and the two men chasing her. The dialogue is sharp and sparkly (in the non-vampiric sense of the word), and at several points in the story I giggled out loud. It's all very character driven, from relatable people, all of whom have to deal with their own various issues as well as working out the mystery facing them. The book is addictive and just a lot of fun.