cover image Spider’s Trap

Spider’s Trap

Jennifer Estep. S&S/Pocket, $7.99 ISBN 978-1-5011-0517-3

Estep’s quirky 13th Elemental Assassin urban fantasy (after Black Widow) makes it clear that 12 books’ worth of magical battles will take a physical and emotional toll on the characters. Retired assassin Gin Blanco reluctantly takes charge of the criminal underworld in the fictional Southern city of Ashland. She’d rather be running her barbecue restaurant, and she’s not as outwardly ruthless as her predecessors, so the town’s crooks doubt her ability to run the show. When an unknown elemental takes aim at Gin and notorious smuggler Lorelei Parker, Gin has to dig deep into her past to figure out who’s after them and why, and she gets a little help from her cadre of companions. The mystery soon becomes less about who the elemental is and more about how to stop an out-of-control vendetta. The normally vivid characterization comes across as tired, much like Gin—and who can blame her given the never-ending litany of people trying to kill her? As always, the central mystery and interpersonal relationships are well crafted. Agent: Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Aug.)