I am not impressed with the story, the writing or the setting. It wasn’t the worst book I have consumed, but it isn’t even in the average. I will avoid spoilers.
1. The writing style: This by far was the worst part of the whole thing. The way Vicki Pettersson wrote the book was the single hardest thing to get used to. It is a “noir” story, meaning it falls back on the old gumshoe type of writing such as “the dame walked into the door and had looks that could kill”.
Now, that can be interesting to a point, but the entire book was written using very halting language, terms and frankly an incredibly sexist viewpoint. I hadn’t expected it to be like that at all. I specifically chose it because the author was a woman and at no point would I have imagined that someone who is on the other side of misogyny would write like that. Now, as a side note, I realize that I had a gender bias going in, thinking a woman wouldn’t do it, and I was proven wrong as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy supernatural noir/urban fantasy settings. Take Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. That is a supernatural noire novel without relying on the trapings and clichés of the old novels. I just couldn’t get into the ham fisted writing style of the book itself, this probably influenced my other two issues.
2. The story: Sadly, the story isn’t imaginative at all, especially for a noire setting. The fact that Griff is a “centurion” doesn’t change it. The main female character is only a two dimensional attractive woman who is always the scrappy investigative reporter. The villians all are “evil” to be evil and there is no shades of grey.
Worst of all the book is over 400 pages and has too many plots that try and interweave. Maybe if the author had focused on a single plot it would have felt like a story, as it was none of the character changed over the book (if they did, it was a decline of detail and character drive and not any actual change). It wasn’t even a good romance story (and I love me some good romance).
3. The Setting: This is probably the area I have the least problem with. The story of a human elevated to a “centurion” to help lead people from violent death to the afterlife isn’t a bad setting. Las Vegas is never a bad place to be, and the “alien” of the Pure is something I haven’t seen before in this type of writing.
The part I don’t like is that it is purely a Christian angel/afterlife sort of thing. With other supernatural/urban fantasy noire like Dresden you get a taste of other cultures and other people. It isn’t centered as a white world. This is just a recent discovery of mine as I am white and male and before a few years ago I didn’t realize that everything was aimed at my demographic. It would be nice to see more cultural influences in this world. I probably would have like the setting more if the storyline and the writing style weren’t so difficult.
Overall I would recommend that you only take the time for this if you are stuck at an airport, or in a place where there aren’t other options. I don’t think Ms. Pettersson is a bad author herself, but this foray needed more editing, more focus and a lot more time to cook before it was released.