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Title: Ghost of a Chance
Series: Arcane Casebook #2
Author: Dan Willis
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
From Danwillisauthor.com & Me
When a bizarre string of locked-room murders terrorize New York, the police reluctantly turn to their magical consultant, private detective Alex Lockerby, to catch a killer who can walk through walls. Dubbed the Ghost by the tabloids, Alex will need every rune in his book to solve the case with no suspects, no leads, and no time to spare.
Unfortunately Alex’s magic hasn’t been working very well of late. He can’t even manage to track down several truckloads of stolen goods, including one belonging to New York’s preeminent sorcerer, Andrew Barton. To make matters worse, Alex and his clients are being stalked by a shadowy cabal with strange powers that Alex has never seen before.
With the Ghost seemingly able to murder at will and the tabloids, the public, and Alex’s clients demanding results, Alex will need a miracle to keep himself, his clients, and his reputation alive.
Alex also has to deal with the effects of his Escape Rune from the previous book that has shaved an unknown number of years off of his lifespan. Iggy, his mentor, puts him in touch with an alchemist and Alex gets involved with her apprentice.
All of the cases are almost tied together, as the Ghost turns out to be a man killing the group of people who cheated him out of his land years ago, land which could have been sold to raise money to save his wife. Barton’s missing motor is linked to a group that wants to steal a literal boatload of gold in a museum and the presence of Mayan Runes are revealed. The same shadowy Man of Mystery is the one supplying both groups with Mayan runes that allow them to do the extraordinary things they do.
Alex solves everything, gets a lot of money and publicity, thinks Jessica (the assistant alchemist) might be the One and both Alex and Iggy wonder who the Shadow Master is.
This was fun! I think what I liked the most was that the author makes what Alex does at the end of the first book (using the Escape Rune) really matter here. He’s not just shrugging off a broken leg or something. He’s lost years, possibly decades, of his life and it’s showing. His hair is white, he doesn’t have the energy and strength he used to, his hands shake (which for a rune wright is disastrous) and generally he’s “old”.
Getting introduced to another Sorcerer was interesting and I’m glad we’re not stuck on Sorsha. With him getting interested in Jessica though, we’ll see what happens between him and Sorsha. Jessica seems a bit too absorbed in her work for something to work out long term with Alex. I just hope the author doesn’t go into Triangle Territory. And honestly, deep characterization isn’t his forte.
The multiple mysteries were just as fast and furious as in the first book. I’d prepared myself though, so it didn’t overwhelm me. I still found myself wishing that one or more had been cut and a greater depth given to the remaining ones. That’s not even really a complaint, just more of a “wish”.
I liked this even more than the first book and have the 3rd and 4th books already lined up. I’m really glad that Larry Correia recommended this author to his fans, as it has turned out to be a huge hit with me. It shouldn’t have, as urban fantasy set in an alternate 1930’s isn’t my thing, but I guess just like the Grimnoir Chronicles, if it is done exactly right, it hits me like a ton of bricks. And I love every brick hitting me!
Finally, the covers. The author has some high res covers on his website and while I’m not using them for these reviews, I can already tell they are going to win all the Cover Love awards at the end of the month. I think the real decision will be whether I include them all or try to pick the best of the bunch. I’ve included a link to the high res cover. But come on, a rune infested shotgun, suspenders and a burning rune? And I wish my chin and hair looked like that. High Res Cover.