Book Review: Devil's Bargain by Rachel Caine

Ebook provided by NetGalley
Published October 5th 2012 by Mira (first published August 1st 2005)

Book Description (from Goodreads):

Jasmine "Jazz" Callender is on the downhill slide to ruin. Once a decorated homicide detective, she's lost it all: her former partner's been convicted of murder, she's been cashiered out, and she's drinking away what little self-respect she's got left.

But Jazz has a talent for trouble, and somebody knows it. When a mysterious, sexy stranger comes looking for her with a fateful red envelope in his hand, she's about to make the deal of her life...for good or bad.

The deal requires her to enter into a partnership with a stranger and investigate cases that arrive in special red envelopes...which is odd enough, but gets weirder as she and her new partner Lucia realize that they may be working for someone with supernatural abilities.

And maybe they're not on the side of the angels anymore.

My Thoughts:

I have heard such wonderful things about Rachel Caine as an author and wanted so badly give this book a try. Even more since I have never read anything from her pen and this book is an urban fantasy after all. And the series title (Red Letter Days), just made want to read it even more. I think I was expecting too much of this book and ended up feeling slightly disappointed. I wanted to like this book so much that I ended up thinking it was okay, but could have been so much better. 

So, starting from the beginning to what I did like. I liked the characters Rachel Caine put to life. They seem genuine people, real enough that I wanted to meet them in real life. And from me, that’s saying a lot. Jazz (girl, btw – yeah, I know, I was wondering too, until her real name was mentioned) is such a strong personality that it made me wish I had such stance toward life. Even when everything is crumbling around her (not saying what because it would be giving away the plot), she finds herself on an adventure that will absolutely change her life. And Borden, the “Counselor”, or on Jazz’s better days, James is a character not possible to not like (and because the first scene with him was one of him dressed in leather, with a Harley jacket that Jazz made him throw away). Lucia is the most fun girl that comes around, the perfect character to complement the uncommon business she is about to start with Jazz. And Manny, well, I really hope there’s more of his story in the upcoming books. Manny and Pansy (ha!, don’t laugh) are minor characters in this book but with an enormous influence all on their’ own. Yes, that means I hope to read more of Red Letter Days. Since, you know, the title is a definite GO!. 

And here is where I put in what I found lacking. There is not much to the plot (few stakeouts, a kiss, some visits to prison), very little action until the last twenty pages of the book (and from what I have read in those few pages, there SHOULD have been more), and that is a little disappointing for me because the heroine is a former cop. Also, sometimes the author’s style seems a little dull, as if she couldn’t wait to put this book away because she didn’t really know what to write about. I get that. Sometimes you don’t know every detail in advance, sometimes the story just takes you away in its own path away from what you had planned initially, and sometimes you just write and the story comes. But I hate that this book just seemed never-ending and slow to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great piece of writing, the idea of “red letters” is intriguing, even though the story reminded me a little of the movie The Devil’s Advocate. What I found the most infuriating is the fact that the author took her time to introduce the paranormal aspect of the story, and I think I would have given up on finishing this book altogether because the fantasy that the title, Devil’s Bargain promised was inquiring for half the book. Even more confusing is the aspect of the letters and the prophecies since we are not really sure which side is which. I only blame Rachel Caine for not giving a more detailed description of the background story.

All taken into consideration, I find this book a little lacking. Even thought the author introduced a variety of interesting characters, and the “benefactors” behind them (if really, I guess, it really depends on personal view of the reader), the book left with me with a lot of questions, wanting me to pick up Devil’s Due, the second Red Letter Day’s book. Concluding with that, it was an accomplishment, right?

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