GUNMETAL MAGIC - Ilona Andrews
A Novel in the World of Kate Daniels
Ace
ISBN: 978-0-425-25613-8
August 2012
Urban Fantasy

An Alternative Atlanta, Georgia

Andrea Nash has been unceremoniously dumped from the only job and home of sorts she ever had, the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, and is now a partner with Kate Daniels at Kate's new private eye firm, Cutting Edge. Andrea's life is basically a mess, and for someone who craves order, she is having a tough time pulling herself together. First, she is a bouda, a hyena shapeshifter, and after years of turning her back on her heritage, she's now coming to terms with what she is and what that means for her in the future. Second, she is no longer dating Raphael Medrano, the male alpha of the Bouda Clan, and she is on somewhat precarious terms with his mother, the female alpha of the clan. And being dumped from her long-time job has left her lost and alone. But now she's trying to move on with her life with the help of her good friend Kate and her new job, because notwithstanding the current state of her sorry life, Andrea is tough.

One of her first jobs is for Atlanta's Shapeshifter Pack, which Kate's mate rules. The job seems pretty innocuous; Andrea needs to investigate the death of four shapeshifters in an old reclamation building. She needs to find out what happened, get rid of the human cops and sniff around (literally). First problem; the reclamation company is owned by her former lover, Raphael. Raphael is furious at Andrea and the way she left their relationship; in fact, they've avoided each other whenever possible, but sparks still fly whenever they meet. Second, the deaths are very strange; in fact it looks like the shapeshifters died from snake venom, and an old building would not have the type of snakes that killed these shapeshifters. Third, fourth and fifth: Raphael, Raphael and Raphael, and the fact that Andrea is still madly in love with him.

GUNMETAL MAGIC is a stand alone book, but it is, as the cover states, ďA Novel in the World of Kate Daniels." Ilona Andrews, the husband and wife author team, has five Kate Daniels books in the series that which is best described as urban fantasy with excellent  mystery, some romance, tons of magic and gore, and great characters. I know; I read the entire series after I finished GUNMETAL MAGIC. Andrea Nash, the protagonist in this story, is a secondary character in the Kate Daniels books, but one who has become more important and well developed as the series has carried on. Therefore, the transition into Andrea's life in this novel makes sense and is seamlessly written. Characterization is excellent, dialogue crisp and sharp and funny. The plot is complex, but that may be because I read late into the night and I get tired. It all ties together and it all makes sense if you can make sense of any urban fantasy. The romance is secondary to the thrills and chills, which works perfectly in this series as it is a fantasy first.

I was delighted with GUNMETAL MAGIC; it's been a long time since I've found a new series that I have actually taken the trouble to buy the books and read back-to-back, and I appreciate the idea that this book is not a prequel or sequel, but a great story that develops some of the secondary characters with enough detail to merit their own special tale. I strongly recommend GUNMETAL MAGIC, both as a stand-alone and as a continuation of sorts of an excellent urban fantasy series that will appeal to all. Also, for those Kate Daniels die-hard fans, you'll find a Kate Daniels novella, MAGIC GIFTS, which should whet your appetite while you await the next in this to die for series.

Astrid Kinn