The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realises she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.
Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good.
I’ve been having a bit of trouble with Urban Fantasy lately in that it all seemed quite similar and nothing was really grabbing me. I was already a fan of Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane series, and the back blurb on Dirty Magic seemed a little different, enough to grab my attention and want to give it a go.
It did start a little slowly but it was a new version of our world to build and it was really interesting learning how potions have become part of normal, everyday life alongside conventional medicine. I thought it was a really clever alternate commentary on how pharmaceuticals have done the same in our reality. You have clean potions (legal) and dirty potions (illegal) and the alchemy adepts who brew or ‘cook’ them. Covens instead of drug cartels, but it all results in addicts needing another fix and another dirty potion hitting the streets for those who are looking for the next big thing. Addicts of clean potions like vanities, youth, weight loss or pain also hits home.
Kate Prospero is an excellent heroine – a former adept with a talent for making magic potions turned cop with a young brother to raise. I understood her issues and felt for her for trying to make something good out of a life that dealt her a bad hand. She isn’t a hugely powerful magic user, nor a clairvoyant, vampire etc. In fact she goes out of her way not to use magic (sometimes a little too far) but for very good reasons (you have to read the book to find out what those are!). She became a cop in order to balance the scales for what she had to do as a kid and that is where the brilliance of Dirty Magic comes in. It’s a police procedural as much as an urban fantasy and it works very very well. Wells’ research was meticulous and having read a lot of crime and thrillers, this was spot on for me. Obviously the fantastical elements were included and I loved them!
I also thought I could see where the book was going to go when we were introduced very early to Kate’s ex, John Volos – fabulously rich, bad guy turned philanthropist (and I admit I rolled my eyes when I made that cynical snap judgment). Full credit to Jaye Wells for completely surprising me in that regard! The team of MEA agents were brilliant too and did much to flesh out the feel of this book – Mesmer and Morales in particular were my favourites but also Gardner for her sarcasm and no nonsense attitude.
I really liked the plot – seemed pretty simple at first but there were several layers to the story and it kept things interesting right to the end. So in spite of the slow start, everything else worked wonderfully and it was a really good book.
If like me, you have become a bit Urban Fantasy jaded – take it from me, this is something different that will really grab you!