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Unquiet Dreams by Mark Del Franco
Cover Artist: Jaime DeJesus
Review by Harriet Klausner
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441015696
Date: 29 January 2008 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

More than a century ago the realm of Faerie was transported to the mundane world of Earth due to a war that got out of hand between the Celtic and Teutonic races. Now the war is with words and underhanded deals in board and back rooms. Connor Grey used to be a powerful Druid, a leading investigator in the Gild which polices the fae until Teutonic elf Bergin Vize zapped him, leaving him with a mass in his head and his powers diminished. He was kicked out of the Gild, though he still has some small powers and has medical benefits since he was injured in the line of duty.

Connor now lives in the Weird, the troubled neighborhood in Boston where the fae who have no place else to go live. He works as a consultant for the Boston Police Department, working crimes involving the fae in some form. Detective Leonard Murdock calls him out one morning to look at the body of a teen. His body was dropped in the middle of a wet field that dried, which means he was thrown by someone who was flying. Connor can sense he recently came into contact with a troll, two elves and a fairy. Murdock thinks it is related to gang warfare.

While examining the crime scene, they are called to another murder site, in the low rent district in the Weird. The victim is Alvin Kruge, a Teutonic elf who goes against his own people to promote unity; his assassination fosters animosity between differing factions of the fae. Joe, a flit (a very tiny fairy) finds Kruge's blood on a sneaker that matches the one the dead teen was wearing, which Conner believes ties the two crimes together. Keeva, an elf and the lead investigator on the Kruge case, is not interested in the other death and doesn't believe they are linked. Connor, Murdock and Joe work the case of the teen but are continually thwarted in the world of the fae, where opposing power struggles are the norm. Nobody suspects a puppet master is working behind the scenes manipulating all the players towards that person's goal.

Unquiet Dreams is an urban fantasy wrapped around a police procedural and that makes for a fast-paced, action-packed novel. Mark Del Franco merges the two genres so one doesn't overwhelm the other; this is an equal melding of the elements from both. Readers will feel sympathy and admiration for the heroic protagonist who fell from the heights of druidical power to working with lowly humans. Yet he has come to terms with his affliction and doesn't indulge in self-pity. In fact, with his powers muted he saved the world (see Unshapely Things), risking his life there to save people who turned their backs on him when he lost power professionally and personally. He knows who his true friends are and treats them well, not with his old arrogance.

He is trying to get a visa to go to Germany to catch the criminal elf who put the mass in his head which the doctors believe powered down his magic. However, the Teutonic league which is based there puts pressure on the government to deny him entry.

Readers will be able to picture a Boston neighborhood populated by different species of fae because the author has written of the Weird in great detail. He makes it seem commonplace so that readers believe it could happen in our reality. It is interesting watching the power struggle between the Celtic and Teutonic races as well as the different species struggling to gain more power for their race. Kruge, who was the victim, had no role to play other than indeed being the corpse, though he made a huge impact on all the races and even the humans as he struggled to bring peace to beings who always lived in a state of war in Faerie. This looks to be a great new urban fantasy series, judging by the first two books in the series. This reviewer can hardly wait for the next one to come out.

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