Thursday, November 15, 2012
Book Review: Dragon Justice
By Laura Anne Gilman
Urban Fantasy Meets Forensic Investigations
Gilman created an amazing world in her Retrievers series, then made fans like me thrilled with a spin-off series. The story takes place in NYC and parallels our everyday world. What most of us Nulls don't know is that there is magic in the world. But rather than just stick to secret magic people in a non-believing world, Gilman added science. What her characters can do mimic many of the elements of electricity - they get a boost from generators and lightning storms, among other things. And in the spin-off series, a cast of characters attempt to do something completely new to this magic world: they create a form of magical forensics to solve magical crimes. This group is called PUPI, or Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations.
The series follows Bonita "Bonnie" Torres, introduced in the Retriever series, as a young woman who couldn't find her "fit" in her post-academic world. Then she's called to join PUPI and combine her particular strengths and gifts to the organization. It's difficult work, but rewarding. They manage to solve the crimes, with the occasional threat to their own well-beings, and in the process they make both allies and enemies. The story delves into the politics of this world, the relationships between the PUPI investigators, as well as the science of the crimes. Gilman's world-building is both detailed and engaging - it drags the reader in and makes them itchy for the next book!
In the fourth installment in this series, Bonnie is due for a break, and just because she leaves for one, doesn't mean she's going to get it. This story takes us through the regular series' haunts, like The Wren's appartment, the PUPI headquarters, and an intriguing story in Central Park, but then it takes a detour to Philadelphia. Here Bonnie finds herself figuring some things out with her relationship to one of the Big Dogs, Ben, with whom she has a unique relationship, and she also gets thrown into a new mystery. Both of these things end up changing things for Bonnie and the Pups; some of these changes involve growing closer together and creating new bonds, while others lead to loss and heartache.
I highly recommend this series to any urban fantasy fan, or anyone who appreciates solid world-building or forensic mysteries. I would recommend starting with the Retriever series, though - you'll understand Bonnie's world much better that way, and the forensic elements will make more sense with the foundation of the original series behind it.