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Industrial Magic : Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Review by Cathy Green
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587072
Date: 26 October, 2004 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

After introducing her readers to Coven politics in Dime Store Magic, Armstrong shows them the inner workings of the Cabal system in all its Machiavellian glory in her current novel Industrial Magic which picks up a short while after the end of Dime Store. Paige Winterbourne, having been kicked out of the American Coven and banned by them from living in Massachusetts, is living in Portland, Oregon, raising Savannah and continuing her developing romantic relationship with Lucas Cortez, son and heir apparent of Benicio Cortez, head of the Cortez cabal. Paige has been trying unsuccessfully to start a new coven using the spell books she acquired in the previous story as a lure, and it?s hard to tell which is the greater obstacle ? her ward or her boyfriend.

The novel opens with a teaser prologue in which the daughter of a cabal employee is attacked and left for dead shortly after dialing the special 9-1-1 number set up for cabal employees and their families. Someone or something is killing children of cabal employees. Against his better judgment, Lucas gets pulled into the investigation when the son of a Cortez cabal employee who is a friend of Lucas? is killed. Naturally Paige joins him in the investigation Lucas agrees to undertake, having been assured of a free hand and no interference by his father. Given the threat to children associated with the cabals, Paige and Lucas ask Elena Michaels and the werewolf Pack to look after Savannah (Elena and the Pack will be familiar to readers of Armstrong?s first novel Bitten and its follow upStolen).

In this newest novel Armstrong fleshes out the relationship between Lucas and his father while simultaneously developing the deepening relationship between Paige and Lucas. While I could have done without the sex and foreplay scenes, I will admit to being amused by the passage where Paige and Lucas are gleefully contemplating the romantic possibilities of a cross-country trip in a stretch limo until they realize that thirteen year old Savannah is going to be along for the ride. Meanwhile, the mystery of the murders and the motive behind them continues apace with some interesting detours brought about by a red herring.

As part of her investigation Paige requires the services of a necromancer to talk to one of the victims, and Lucas refers her to Jaime Vegas. Jaime is an amusing woman who?s the real deal when it comes to talking to the dead, even if she has made a career out of doing a Jonathan Edwards style show. Jaime proves a capable ally and will no doubt show up as a supporting character in future Armstrong novels set in the same universe. In addition to the necromancer and the Pack, Paige is assisted somewhat unwillingly by a vampire named Cassandra who invites herself along in the investigation. Together Paige and Cassandra travel to New Orleans where they encounter a group of vampires who have read too much Anne Rice and taken it entirely too seriously, much to Cassandra?s embarrassment and Paige?s amusement.

The investigation is further complicated by Cabal interference, which increases greatly when the killer ups the ante by starting to kill children directly related to Cabal heads instead of the children of mere employees. And it doesn?t help that Lucas? father is using the investigation to attempt to get closer to Lucas and Paige in order to draw them into the Cabal. Benicio is motivated both by genuine concern for his son and by opportunism and politics since an alliance with Paige would put Savannah under Cortez cabal control by proxy and be a poke in the eye of the Nash cabal. The Cortez family dynamic seems to resemble that of Italian nobility during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, what with retainers, acknowledged illegitimate children, and the fact that family members occasionally attempt to poison each other to better their positions.

This fast-paced mystery takes Paige and Lucas to various places across the country from California to Louisiana. Along the way they have encounters with vampires, demons, druid gods, werewolves and even The Fates, before the novel builds to its exciting climax in Miami at a charity costume ball where Paige and Lucas call upon the assistance of Benicio, Jamie, Cassandra, Savannah and Elena and the Pack in order to catch the killer. Industrial Magic is an excellent follow-up to Dime Store Magic and definitely will satisfy fans of Armstrong?s earlier books. The novel also works well as a stand-alone book, so new readers should not avoid this book out of concern that their enjoyment will be diminished by a lack of familiarity with the earlier stories. Industrial Magic is a real page-turner and a fun romp despite the fact that the plot driver is the murder of several teenagers. Recommended.

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