Book Review · fantasy · General

Book Review: Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman


The name’s Torres, Bonnie Torres, and I’m a paranormal scene investigator—rooting out the truth about crimes of magic. It’s dangerous and boring and scary and fascinating. Though not everyone in the Cosa Nostradamus is happy we’re around, which can make things…tricky.

Working two cases—looking into a murder for the NYPD, and a rich man’s break-in—should be well within our abilities. But when things start getting weird in the Electric Apple, Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations is stretched to the limits, trying to keep one step ahead and out of trouble. Add in rumors of a powerful creature gunning for us and it’s not just our rep on the line this time—if we don’t solve this case, everyone will suffer.

Fortunately, around here, when the going gets weird, the weird hire us.…

I enjoyed Tricks of the Trade. It’s doesn’t move at a breakneck speed, but it’s not slow. It just kind of advances at a very steady, moderate kind of pace.

Tricks of the Trade is the third in Paranormal Scene Investigations. It’s like a magic CSI: NY. Sometime between the last book and this one, the team got a new player and I really think Ms. Gilman ought to do a short story or two detailing her interview and subsequent disaster in the field (referred to by the characters, but not in any detail.)

This time they have two cases and Bonnie gets to investigate each in turn. One involves a robbery, the other a murder. The robbery is pretty interesting. 😉 It’s not quite what it seems.

Bonnie is more mature than in the last two books. She has seen so much, poor girl, it disturbs her. Her teammates have found out about her relationship with Ben, and yes, at the end of the book they even kissed! Nothing else, sadly. They have accepted their attraction to each other, and I think it had something to do with how the robbery case was resolved. 😉

An ending which, by the way, I didn’t see coming. (I didn’t see the ending in the last book coming, either). But it’s pretty much the only way it could have ended. You can’t really ask anything else of the perfect ending. 😉

There is no information on what this Merge thing between actually is. Bonnie hasn’t talked to her mentor/adopted father about it and I really think she should.

But the most hilarious thing in this book is that one of the bosses, Ian, apparently cannot parse evidence. He can’t keep his own magic from tainting the evidence. And really that is the whole premise of the book – to process evidence like magical CSI techs. I just found it funny he couldn’t do that. But his job is political schmoozing, so it works out.

Robin the Trickster also shows up in this story. My other favorite scene was when people are screaming because the train won’t come, the shuttle won’t come and people are screaming at the poor cops who telling them it will come, just be patient. The trickster is cackling to himself, and than some cabs show up to take the poor stranded strap-hangers to their destination. Robin the Trickster is baffled and decides to think up other ways to spread mischief in the city.

The weak point of this novel are the POV changes. It’s not that the happen a lot, they don’t, but sometimes the change in voice isn’t clear. Different POV characters sound the same. Especially when they don’t spend time talking to other people and the scene takes place mostly in their heads. I suspect that’s why some other people were confused by the POV changes.

Grade: B-


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