[Review] THE TAKEN by Vicki Pettersson

Vicki Pettersson

Cover Copy: Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul–Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.

Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder–and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . .

My Thoughts:   I’ll admit I was surprised when I heard Vicki Pettersson was ending her Signs of the Zodiac series at six books. It seemed like a short run for a series, compared to Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison (13 books each) and Laurell K. Hamilton (20+ books). When I heard Pettersson’s new series revolved around the Rockabilly subculture, I grew nervous. Can a subculture sustain the worldbuilding required of an urban fantasy genre? Or will it collapse into its own novelty value?

I was, however, pleased to hear the new series, the Celestial Blues series, will still have all the things Pettersson does so well: mystery, fantasy, and a backdrop of the ever-fabulous Las Vegas, home of Pettersson.

The promo for THE TAKEN suggests the story will answer the question “Who killed Griffin Shaw?” Not to spoil it for you, but we don’t get an answer. The real question that should have promo’d the book is “Who killed Kit Craig’s best friend?” because this is the murder that is solved in this book. It’s also the murder in the present. Griffin Shaw’s death happened fifty years ago– the killer is long gone, along with most everyone that knew anything– although, this does seem to be the question that will carry the series.

THE TAKEN opens with journalists, Kit Craig and her friend Nicole, trying to catch the bad guy, but things go wrong when the bad guy kills Nicole. Enter Griffin Shaw. Angel. Now that Nicole is dead, he’s to take her to the Everlast. But before she agrees to go, she manages to get a moment to leave a message for Kit. This is a slip-up for Griffin, and he finds himself out of a job. Worse, the message doesn’t reach Kit– it’s intercepted by the bad guys, putting Kit at the top of the hit list.

If you were worried the angels would mean less of Pettersson’s brand of magic, don’t. At one point, an infant is used as a medium for Griffin to talk to a fellow angel. The magic is still bold and slightly creepy– trademark Pettersson.

The mystery was a little disappointing, though. I wanted Kit and Grif to be more actively involved in finding the killer. I understood Kit needing to get her hair done, it’s part of who she is, but then I wanted active persuit of leads. Instead, they get leads and then ignore them. At one point, when Grif is chatting up an old buddy, the former angel asks “Who told you, all those years ago, that I was dead?” This comes as the last line of a scene. The next scene cuts to Kit, and we never learn the answer to that question.

Still, the chemistry between Kit and Griffin is undeniable. The pair banter in a way that’s reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy or Eve Dallas and Roarke from J.D. Robb’s series or Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd from Moonlighting.

As it turns out, I liked addition of the Rockabilly culture. It splashes colour into the background of the story. It also colours the protagonist, Kit Craig, putting her in sharp contrast to Griffin’s more serious nature. In fact, the cover art depicts the duo really well: Kit in her bright red dress, and Griffin faded to the background in grey, wings dissolving into mist.

Fans of Pettersson will certainly enjoy THE TAKEN, but with its toned-down fantasy and more cheerful heroine giving the story broader appeal, I think many more readers will be taken with Pettersson.

Rating: A-
Series: Celestial Blues, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins,
Acquired: purchase

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