Dante Valentine is a freelance Necromance — clients hire her to communicate with dead people so they can solve murders, settle estate disputes, etc. When the Devil wants to hire Dante to find a rogue demon named Vardimal Santino, and to recover the important object he’s stolen from Hell, he gives her no choice but to obey. Dante doesn’t want to work for the devil, but she does want to keep living. To help with that, the Devil assigns her a bodyguard — the demon Japhrimel. While Dante and Japhrimel are trying to track down Santino, they run into Dante’s ex-boyfriend, Jace, who seems all too willing to help. Eventually they discover that the demons have been doing some genetic experiments with humans and that not only is the future of humanity at stake, but so is the guardianship of Hell. If Vardimal isn’t stopped… um… all Hell will break loose.
I don’t typically read these urban fantasy series featuring smart-mouthed tattooed leather-clad women bravely slaying scary paranormal creatures while grumbling about their jobs and parentage and juggling at least two hot possessive guys on the side. All these stories are pretty much the same to me. I only picked up Working for the Devil out of a sense of obligation since Brilliance Audio sent me a review copy. Fortunately, the audio production is excellent with Tanya Eby doing a first-rate job with all of the parts. She’s a great reader and I enjoyed listening to her.
It’s too bad I didn’t like the story more. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t manage to rise above mediocre. The most interesting feature is Saintcrow’s futuristic world, including races developed by genetic experimentation, which she gives us only hints about. Some readers will be frustrated by this, but I liked the mystery of it and the promise that future installments would fill in the details.
I also appreciated the focus on action rather than the romance because one of the main problems I have with these types of books is that I never believe in the romance. Frankly, Dante’s a bossy hostile foul-mouthed bitch, and I have no idea why two hot guys are so in love with her. Are they so shallow that all they can see is how great she looks in her demon-fighting gear? I’ve complained many times about the vapid female characters I find in older SFF written by men, so I’m going to start complaining about some of the equally ridiculous male protagonists being written by modern female writers. I can’t admire characters whose primary criterion for a great relationship is that they both look great in their blood-soaked leathers.
For readers who like sassy kickass heroines, Working for the Devil is likely to go over pretty well, and I’d recommend the audio version. I’m going to give the second book, Dead Man Rising, a try, but I’m doubtful that I’ll like it any more than I liked this one — Dante Valentine just isn’t someone I want to spend my precious free time with.