Melissa F. Olson is another new author to me. This book is listed at the Literary Escapism blog's New Author Challenge 2013.
by Melissa F. Olson
Series: Scarlett Bernard, Book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: 49North, 2012
Synopsis: Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.
But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.
I believe this is the first book published by Ms. Olson. I liked the premise: Scarlett Bernard is a null (magic doesn't work around her) so LA's three most powerful magical communities (vampires, witches and weres) use her to scrub crime scenes clean of any trace of magic to keep "regular" people unaware of magic. However, I did find it odd that when she doesn't get to a crime scene quickly enough to scrub the scene clean that this is the first time this has happened. It seems like there would have to be more times she hadn't made it to the scene before the police. All urban fantasy needs some suspension of disbelief, but the world that is built needs to make sense and that point didn't make sense.
However, overall I did like the book. The world is an interesting one and the mystery is a good one. There are many characters who could be responsible for the murder Scarlett didn't get cleaned up. It's quickly clear that this crime was supposed to frame Scarlett, but because she showed up late it's harder to frame. Dashiell, the head vampire, doesn't care about that--if Scarlett doesn't produce the killer then he will kill Scarlett. And the policeman who tracks her down and finds out about the supernatural world stays alive during the investigation and helps Scarlett with the investigation as long as he keeps quite about what he's found out about this world. However, he will also be killed if they don't find the killer.
I liked the fact that some of the supernatural characters in the book like being close to Scarlett (becoming human) and others want to stay far away. Dashiell, the head of the vampires, is one who wants her to stay away from him...he's vulnerable when she's close and he doesn't want to age anymore than he already has! Others such as Scarlett's roommate, Molly, (another vampire) wants to grow older and likes to be able to be awake during the daytime.
Before this book begins Olivia who was Scarlett's mentor has died. Olivia had shown up at her parents' funeral and afterward took her in and trained her. During Olivia's illness Scarlett learned things about her life and about Olivia that were a shock to her. During the course of this book she realizes she's been going through the motions since then:
...I had been going through the motions. Clean up crime scenes. Ignore my brother. Watch TV with Molly. Have slightly drunken sex with Eli. Do laundry. Repeat. I might as well have died with Olivia, or with my parents, for all the living I've been doing.... It's so much easier to just think of your life as a giant checklist that has to be worked through. But like it or not, I couldn't sit on the bench anymore.I enjoyed this book and it ends on a surprising note which I didn't see coming at all...lol, The second book in this series--Trail of Dead--is scheduled to be published on June 4 and I have preordered it!