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Hostile Takeover: Vale Investigation, Book 1
Cristelle Comby. Cristelle Comby, , $3.99 ASIN B07D2MWFN7
This brisk paranormal noir innovatively combines gods and gentrification, but stale genre artifacts leave a bad aftertaste. In an alternate version of the present-day U.S., private eye Bellamy Vale works for Lady McDeath—death incarnated as a classic femme fatale—whose quick-healing powers he accesses in exchange for fealty. She sends him to hunt a murderous part-beast berserker through Cold City. When the berserker’s seemingly random maulings unfold into an otherworld-spanning plot rooted in real estate, gentrification, and the worship of old gods, only Vale, demigod hacker Zian, and ambitious Texan journalist Candice Kennedy can stop it. Comby (Blind Chess) ably handles dynamic action, and Cold City’s post–Great Recession instability fits detective noir well. However, close adherence to 1930s tropes feels dated at best, retrograde at worst: Vale’s Chandleresque banter includes a dash of glaring misogyny, with every adult woman sexualized, labeled “bitch,” or both. Casual jokes about Asians eating bugs and a villain’s bad English only increase the discomfort. These dusty stereotypes undermine even the most jaded reader’s enjoyment of an otherwise fine magical homage to hardboiled crime fiction. (BookLife)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 10/12/2018