In this supernatural debut, a shadowy figure begins killing humans he marks as truly evil, while apparently trying to ignite a war between the corrupt and the incorruptible.
Organized Crime Control Bureau Detective Eliot Fawkes knows the brutal murder of Cal Nereza could signify the end of a truce between two mob families. Because who other than mob boss Adriano Lucia would kill the son of his rival, Vittore Nereza? But Eliot encounters Azrael, a mysterious figure killing “blackhearted” humans who bring pain and suffering to others. Azrael is apparently activating Lightborns, who are most resistant to evil and include Eliot, journalist Eva Acadian, and Adriano’s estranged teenage son, Celino. Two strangers, Remiel and Cassiel, are soon searching for Azrael, but it’s quickly evident that he’s awakened something much worse than he is and with the power to crush a U.S. military vessel like an empty soda can. Four guardians from around the world—including surfer Sera in California and London-based Sacha—gather for the purpose of summoning an individual who can stop the creature that Azrael’s released. It’s clear that Azrael isn’t concerned with instigating a Mafia war, but rather a confrontation on a global scale. Evil may be vanquished, but there’s a frightening possibility that humanity could destroy itself in the process. It’s not hard to ascertain what Azrael, Cassiel, and some others are, though the author largely avoids the A-word. Hardison, however, concentrates on frequent debates on the nature of good and evil, typically with Azrael speaking to his potential victims. Fortunately, the dialogue’s both sharp and profound: “Where your life is concerned, maybe what you deem salvation I would just call good timing,” says a never-quite-trustworthy Azrael. The author, too, digs deep into his good-versus-evil theme, thoroughly examining both sides. A doctor, for example, may be a contradiction to his lifesaving profession, while an incarcerated serial killer endlessly struggles to understand the way he is. Hardison’s just getting started with this book, so an epic battle—Lightborns against Darkborns, perhaps?—doesn’t happen. Notwithstanding, there’s a stellar fight late in the story, and fully established characters guarantee a sequel opening at full tilt.
An ardent tale about a formidable creature that will synchronize cheers and ruminations.