Infernal Affairs (OSI)
I’ve become rather fond of the blend of police procedural and sci-fi and fantasy. Although it’s certainly true that human beings can be quite creative in the perpetration of crimes, there’s something about the vastness of space or the pervasiveness of myth that rivals even our own species’ inventiveness. One of the best of these is Jes Battis’s OSI series, and its most recent addition keeps the action and adventure quotient high.
Tess Corday, an Occult Special Investigator, has a pretty full life. She works the night shift, dealing with all manner of paranormal weirdness, and she’s also the “mother” to two vampiric teenagers. So the last thing she needs is for a demon in the form of a child to enter her life. Ru is found lifeless on a beach, but revives on the autopsy table. He’s on the run from another demon who wants to drag him home to be executed—and said demon makes an unexpected appearance.
Any of that would be enough for one overworked human to process. But unfortunately, there’s more: the demon bounty hunter apparently knows who her father is. All Tess knows is that he’s demonic in origin, but she’s never been able to discover his identity—or even his species. Now she’s closer than ever to tracking down the one being that can shed light into her past.
This novel has a wonderful mix of action, character development and story arc. On the action front, there are first and foremost the demonic battles. Ru may look like a child, but he’s powerful in his own right, and he has a few knockdown-dragouts with his attacker. Tess and her friends get in on the action as well, with the inclusion of a new minor character, the morgue doctor who inadvertently stumbles into the world of the paranormal when Ru wakes up on his table.
As for character development, one of the more fascinating bits involves Derrick, Tess’s friend and partner. He has psychic abilities that begin to act strangely over the course of the novel. The author depicts him as dealing with some of the darker aspects of his nature through his growing—and fluctuating—powers.
And speaking of darker things, the other character development that I enjoyed was Tess’s relationship with Mia, the teenage girl who carries the vampire virus in her blood, although it hasn’t turned her yet. Tess isn’t her mother, but she’s cast into a parental role with her. It’s interesting to watch her struggle with how to treat Mia, trying to find the fine line between parent and friend. Battis never portrays the relationship as an easy one, but the two do have a respect for each other that’s easy to see.
The story arc centers, obviously, on Tess’s search to find answers about her parentage; however, this isn’t the main focus of the novel. It hovers in the background of all the other events, but it’s always there. By the end of the book, Tess (and readers) will have a bit more info to go on, but the lion’s share of what’s going to be revealed is still down the road a ways.
I’m always happy to see a new OSI novel on the shelves, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Infernal Affairs has everything that’s best about the paranormal mystery genre, and it continues to get better. Battis may not be as well known as some other authors, but these books are just as good as the more popular series, if not better.
Also by this author: Bleeding Out, Night Child
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on June 29, 2011.