cover image Spells for the Dead

Spells for the Dead

Faith Hunter. Ace, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-58796-2

The middling fifth urban fantasy of Hunter’s Soulwood series (after Circle of the Moon) offers a serviceable paranormal procedural plot overburdened with unnecessary exposition. When country music megastar Stella Mae Ragel is murdered by means of a “death and decay” spell, Special Agent Nell Ingram of the Psychometric Law Enforcement Division of Homeland Security investigates. The case grows complicated when Nell discovers that Stella spent five years living in a sex commune and one of her many lovers might be the murderer, triggering Nell’s PTSD from her own childhood in a polygamous cult, and causing her to question her relationship with her boyfriend, Occam, a wereleopard. To solve the case, Nell must contend with her trauma and come to an understanding of her own mysterious powers. Hunter’s world is well-developed but over-explained, and extremely graphic descriptions of the effects of death and decay magic will make this difficult for the weak of stomach. But the solid mystery and well-drawn cast are enough to keep devoted readers turning pages. This is for die-hard series fans only. Agent: Lucienne Diver, the Knight Agency. (July)