Retired paranormal underworld assassin Gin Blanco can handle almost any physical threat, but when a figure from her past returns to charm her best friend and foster brother into a close relationship, she's convinced the woman is up to no good.
Gin is queen of the underworld in the Southern criminal stronghold of Ashland, though she doesn’t want to be. She’s spent the last few years creating a tight-knit quasi-family from a motley crew of friends and just wants to run her barbecue joint in peace. Unfortunately, she’s a prime target for a huge line of villains who want to take her out of the picture. Recently, she’s discovered that Fletcher, her mentor and father of her best friend, Finn, left her some post-mortem clues as to a shadowy figure from their past who everyone believed was dead but isn’t. Should that woman, Deirdre—Fletcher's wife and Finn's mother—ever come back to Ashland, she’ll be up to no good. By the time Gin gathers all the pieces and proof together, Deirdre has already reconnected with Finn, and he's resentful of Gin’s attempts to protect him and angry at her refusal to believe Deirdre’s intentions are good. So she plays a precarious game of trying to be supportive of Finn’s genuine desire to reconnect with a woman she believes betrayed him in the past while also quietly probing what Deirdre’s true motives are so that she can help Finn when she betrays him again. The 14th title in the Elemental Assassin series is a fast, furious, and entertaining romp in an intriguing though violent paranormal world, and Estep does an admirable job of moving the story forward, expressing Gin’s obvious discomfort at the complicated emotions she and her friends are navigating, all while balancing the psychological and physical threats Deirdre brings to Ashland. Occasionally, though, scenes and plot elements seem to be inserted more for shock value rather than growing authentically out of the characters or story.
An intense yet engaging urban fantasy jaunt.