This urban fantasy debut and series opener sees an immortal hunting a voodoo serial killer.
Sebastian Montero, an independently wealthy resident of Malibu, California, is immortal. He’s been alive for seven centuries, amassing riches, battling evil, and keeping his existence secret from society. The love of his long life is a vampire named Aliena who’s “lavishly feminine, Aphrodite’s dark reflection.” He owns BioLaw Industries, a research facility and forensics lab through which he helps the Los Angeles Police Department solve crimes. When 17-year-old Sherri Barlow is found at home hanging by her ankles, eviscerated, the immortal teams up with detectives Steven Hamilton and Alfred Gonzales to find the culprit. At a party at the Houdini Mansion, Sebastian is possessed by the spirit of a young woman, and he witnesses her mind regress “to that of a terrified child as she realizes she is going to die.” With a second victim, Jessica Patterson, the physical evidence of spices mixed into her blood and the eating of her heart points to a series of ritualistic killings. Sebastian’s BioLaw employees prove invaluable to the case, yet Hamilton loathes the idea that the paranormal might be involved—that the murderer is trying to become the Thief of Souls. In this decadent, addictive tale, Mongrain hard-boils the supernatural to perfection. His portrayal of Southern California, where “arid gusts ruffled the tops of the trees...bringing the thick smells of sage and chaparral,” should intoxicate readers as much as Sebastian’s playboy worship of Aliena, who feeds on the immortal (“She slowly licked the blood off” his finger “with her smooth, icy tongue”). Other facets of Sebastian’s unique state include the abilities to forgo food and sleep and to heal quickly. The author reveals these details not in passing but in careful flashbacks to his protagonist’s youth in the 13th century. Regarding sleep, “I had seen my parents in this otherworldly state...but I assumed it was something that happened to you when you were older.” Mongrain’s compact prose delivers a satisfyingly epic procedural while teasing further dark corners of his world.
A delectable supernatural noir that should be thrown back in one shot.