Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

Back to paperback books and guess what... This is not YA. Shocking, I know, since I've been reading a lot of YA books lately. This is a book I found at random when I was walking through Barnes and Noble last year. It seemed interesting, so I picked up the book.

From Goodreads: "Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations: A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can't touch—crimes of magic.
My name's Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn't applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work—so off I went.
     Two days later I'm a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.
     The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We're sniffing out things they'd rather keep buried.
      Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we're making it up as we go along…"

This ended up being better than I thought. In general, I don't watch the CSI type television shows, so I wasn't sure if I was going to like a book labeled as a paranormal version of CSI.

Main Character: Bonnie is a fun character with a bit of an attitude. She is amusing and there are some great lines that really made me chuckle. Bonita (that is her first name actually) is also a bisexual main character, though men get her attention a bit more than women. Overall, I liked her except for one thing. She really needs to get control of her libido because it gets a little old with her losing attention on important topics by different guys. Strangers, client's relatives, witness', coworkers, bosses, doesn't matter, she gets distracted. What did help was there were consequences for it some of the time and having the tension helped. Having her occasionally mention women did make her a little more relatable to me than some of the other girl MCs I've read recently who spend too much time focusing on who they find attractive. But there are a few times where the reader could have seen Bonnie discover clues that are later heard about in dialogue instead of just seeing her distraction over some one's appearance and her interest in them.

Story: It was mostly interesting. I've not read many mysteries before, so trying to figure out how two people magically died wasn't easy. I liked how the plot of the story interlaced with the world, where magic and non-magic humans existed among other beings too. I liked the magic type, the concept of current and how the characters, MC especially showed the reader its uses. The only problem with a story like crime scene investigation is that the end feels a little anti-climatic. There was an exciting commotion towards the end that confused me a little about what was going on, and that made me feel more in the story.

Minor issues: There are many characters and many many names. Each of the P.U.P.I. characters are called by first, last and nicknames at different points in the novel. Two of them are named Nick (one often called Nifty). It was a nice break to read an adult book and I barely noticed at times that the book was in first person. Sometimes it was hard to tell who was talking when a lot of dialogue was happening at once. Line after line within the P.U.P.I. organization discussing certain evidence was good but I had no idea who was saying what. Didn't detract from the story but I did notice it.

Overall: I am looking forward to the next book, Pack of Lies. I didn't see it in the bookstore today but it was published at the beginning of this year. Those that like paranormal, magic and a little crime investigation might like this book. And even if you're like me and don't watch crime stuff, you might still like this book.

Dawn's Verdict: 8/10



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