Title: Devil’s Bargain
Author: Rachel Caine
Series: Red Letter Days #1
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Summary (from Goodreads)
Jasmine “Jazz” Callender is on the downhill slide to ruin. Once a decorated homicide detective, she’s lost it all: her former partner’s been convicted of murder, she’s been cashiered out, and she’s drinking away what little self-respect she’s got left.
But Jazz has a talent for trouble, and somebody knows it. When a mysterious, sexy stranger comes looking for her with a fateful red envelope in his hand, she’s about to make the deal of her life…for good or bad.
The deal requires her to enter into a partnership with a stranger and investigate cases that arrive in special red envelopes…which is odd enough, but gets weirder as she and her new partner Lucia realize that they may be working for someone with supernatural abilities.
And maybe they’re not on the side of the angels anymore.
I must admit, I love a bit of ‘whose side are you on?’ drama. Well done, it can be a delicious blend of intrigue, tension (romantic or otherwise) and clever plot twists to keep you guessing. Badly done, it can be infuriating as characters swap sides for no discernible reason.
Devil’s Bargain fell on the right side of that line. Full to the brim with intrigue and plenty of romantic tension, it’s a taught, pacy read based around a concept that leaves loads of options for exploration. Sinister companies, mysterious forces, good guy/bad guy love interests and a heroine with serious attitude bring plenty of flavour to the pot.
On the downside, it’s a fairly disposable thriller. The intrigue was gripping when I had the book in my hand, and I didn’t hesitate to pick up the sequel, but I haven’t thought about it since. The books are fairly short, and the romance is a focus. There are hints that there could be wider consequences to the actions of Jazz and her friends, but for now it’s all very much rooted in the consequences for them alone. Until it’s opened up a bit and a little more threat to the wider population introduced, it just won’t have that ‘play on the mind’ factor that, for me, really pushes this sort of thing up to the five star rating.