Bleeding Out by Jes Battis

Bleeding Out (OSI)

Wrapping up a series can be tricky.  If the series has gone on long enough, there are probably going to be tons of plot threads that need to be sewn together into a coherent whole.  If nothing else, there needs to be a sense of finality to the tale, even if there are no major character deaths and no earth-shattering cataclysms to sort out.  Bleeding Out, the final OSI novel, doesn’t so much end as simply peter out.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Though she’s on leave from the Occult Special Investigations squad, Tess Corday is still grappling with her own personal mysteries. But finding out the truth about her demonic heritage has been more difficult than she expected. Plus, her unauthorized investigation into an addictive new vampire street drug is driving a stake between her and her undead boyfriend.

Then Vancouver’s premier necromancer turns up dead. Tess suspects that the cases are related. And her suspicions will lead her into a paranormal showdown that can—and will—change the course of her life forever.”

I’ve enjoyed this series as a whole, but I think that this final novel didn’t really have a direction that it was definitely heading in.  For example, Tess’s situation with her job was far too up-in-the-air to work well in a concluding volume.  Instead of a permanent and firm break from the unit or a triumphant return to the force, Tess wanders around on administrative leave.  She’s not part of the department, but she keeps getting called in to consult on cases.  She’s neither with them nor not with them, and it felt kind of wishy-washy.

Most of the events of the novel lack force.  There are conflicts between characters, but they blow over in a very short period of time.  The murdered necromancer has very little effect other than to make all the other necromancers run away.  The vampire street drug stems from a source that could have caused a major conflict among the main characters, but in the end, nothing really comes of it.  Even Tess’s demonic origins amount to little more than a sidenote during a battle near the book’s end.

To top it off, the author’s prose turns very metaphorical at times, something that hasn’t happened before.  Tess’s ruminations about her little “family” of friends and co-workers start to verge on the poetic, and quite frankly, it makes Tess sound a little like she might be on drugs herself.  There’s an extended sequence in the middle of the book where Tess learns some facts about her mother that deeply upset her, and she wanders around having the kind of thoughts that you might expect from an acid trip.  This sequence really sticks out like a sore thumb, and I found myself starting to skim it, because it adds nothing to the narrative.

Given how much I liked the other books in this series, Bleeding Out is a painful letdown.  I’m not sure what the author was trying to accomplish here, but whatever it was, he didn’t do it.  The book just doesn’t have the punch that should have been delivered with a novel that wraps up a story.

Also by this author: Infernal Affairs, Night Child

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on July 3, 2012.

Series: OSI
ISBN: 9781937007638
Publisher: Ace
Page Count: 256
Publication Date: May 29, 2012
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Read an excerpt