Shady Lady by Ann Aguirre
Shady Lady: A Corine Solomon Novel
I’ve been following Ann Aguirre for a few years. I was drawn to her books because she writes good, complex female protagonists who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty or wade into a fight. Shady Lady, the third Corine Solomon novel, keeps up that tradition as demons and drug lords fight to do away with our intrepid heroine.
(Description nicked from the back of the book.)
“When Corine Solomon touches an object, she knows its history. But her own future concerns her more and more. Now back in Mexico, she’s running her pawnshop and trying to get a handle on her strange new powers, for she might need them. And soon.
Then former ally Kel Ferguson walks through her door. Muscled and tattooed, Kel looks like a convict but calls himself a holy warrior. He carries a warning for Corine: The Montoya cartel is coming for her–but they don’t pack just automatic weapons. The Montoyas use warlocks, shamans, voodoo priests–anything to terminate trouble. And Corine has become enemy number one…”
I enjoyed this novel more than the other two in the series, and I think that’s because Corine’s character really changed during the story. While I certainly liked Blue Diablo and Hell Fire, a lot of the action seemed to be driven by Chance and his habit of attracting good luck (and subsequently spreading bad luck to others). Also, the first two books had a lot to do with Corine’s search to find out more about her mother. In Shady Lady, she’s armed with more knowledge and isn’t saddled with Chance, and thus she’s free to develop in different directions.
Another welcome change is her apprentice, Shannon. A minor character from Hell Fire, she adds a different perspective to the narrative. She’s younger and less jaded than Corine, and her reactions to things form a large part of her character. The addition of Kel Ferguson in a larger role was also welcome. Readers will learn a little more about this enigmatic character, and although he doesn’t stick around for the whole novel, his presence is definitely felt.
I’m also fascinated by Corine’s struggle with her darker side. The author has put Corine into some difficult positions, with no way out except by way of some difficult choices. It’s intriguing to watch her finally accept that maybe she’s going to have to deal with some stains on her soul to keep other people safe, and to see what she does as a result of that realization.
Initially, I had a little trouble getting into the book, because it felt like it started a little slowly, but about a third of the way into the novel things really picked up. The plot plays out briskly, with jungle treks and Mexican drug cartels to spice things up. And the ending has an interesting twist, one that I’ll be keenly interested to see more of in the upcoming sequel.
Ann Aguirre’s fiction is smart, entertaining and engrossing. Shady Lady is one of her better novels, with complex characters and a plot that delivers surprises and thrills in equal measure.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on July 9, 2011.