Shadow's Blade (Case Files of Justis Fearsson)
by David B. Coe
Cover Artist: Alan Pollack
Review by Mel Jacob
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781481482424
Date: 25 April 2017 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Shadow’s Blade is David B. Coe's latest urban fantasy featuring weremyste Justis Fearsson. Partly a noir detective story enlivened with magic, the novel follows Justis as he struggles to survive against an ancient necromancer. He needs all his strength if he is to recover the Shadow's Blade, an artifact used to create the necromancers, destroy his deadliest enemy, save a family, and survive.
Weremystes can cast magic spells but also suffer from phasing. They, like all weres, are affected by the full moon and a day either side of it. Phasing weakens them, making any coherent thought difficult, and leaves them largely unable to use magic. Justis is approaching such a period.
When several people die at a burger place on the interstate, Kona Shaw, his former partner in the Phoenix Police Department, calls him for help. She suspects magic was used and wants him to confirm it. Witnesses report a mother with two young children loosed the magic when a man and his colleagues tried to stop her. Outside the restaurant, there was a dead woman drained of her blood.
Justis suspected a user of blood magic had killed her in attempting to stop the fleeing mother. Such magic entails risk to weremystes but adds power to spells. However, it is what necromancers use and Justis's mentor, the spirit of Nemid, a dead Zuni Indian, has warned him that those who use it risk becoming what they fight.
Impressed with the power of the spells used, Justis tries to convince Kona the woman acted in self-defense. He soon is embroiled in a search for the woman when his friend, a crime boss and weremyste, hires him to locate the woman and her children on behalf of her parents.
Justis is soon embroiled in a search for the woman and a mysterious artifact of great power. Necromancers believe the woman has it and they will stop at nothing to get it. They also want the woman and children because she is a were and weremyste and her young daughter may ultimately have even greater power.
Coe maintains a hectic pace throughout the novel pushing Justis into harm's way and even risking the life of the woman he loves. The hectic pace of the action leaves little time for deep thinking although Justis does finally grasp what Nemid has been trying to teach him. Most readers will find the ending satisfying.
Coe has written two other titles in the Case Files of Justis Fearsson: Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes.