Bad Blood, by Lucienne Diver

Samhain Publishing, © 2012
ISBN 978-1-60928-594-4
219 pages, $14.00

Any book that includes Apollo—the Apollo—hiding among humans as an adult film star is bound to grab my attention. And he isn’t alone; Circe, Poseidon, Hephaestus, Hermes, and other Big Names make appearances in this first book of the Latter Day Olympians series. Add in skeptical protagonist TORI KARACIS, a private investigator who may—or may not—have gorgon blood, her edgy relationship with Detective NICK ARMANI (no relation), and her overly dramatic assistant, Jesus, and you have a perfect recipe for a most unusual mystery.

The book opens with Tori on the job, tailing a high-powered Hollywood agent for a paying client. Things go to hell (or is that Hel?) almost immediately, and by the end of the first chapter, our P.I. is called into Detective Armani’s office for questioning. Pressure mounts in every scene as Tori begins asking the right questions and coming a little too close for comfort to uncovering the truth behind the mayhem. Soon Tori herself is a target and that’s when things really kick into high gear.

Tori, the main character and my favorite, portrays the classic strong-but-vulnerable heroine. Her personality comes through loud and clear in the first few pages, and remains consistent throughout the book; sarcasm is her native language, especially in her head, where we spend a good bit of time. More than once I laughed out loud at her private thoughts, and found myself cheering her snide comments, wishing I had the guts to speak my mind as fluently in tense situations. Her observations of people and situations reach the reader through the filter of Tori’s cynicism, which makes them even more amusing. I loved the fact that she could laugh at herself, as well as those around her.

Little by little, some of Tori’s background emerges and we get a glimpse into why she is so suspicious and (dare I say it) uptight. Her unique family members contribute, especially YiaYia, whose fantastic tales of family history Tori has never taken seriously—until now. Even Uncle Christos, whose investigative business she inherited, adds his two cents with quotes like “If you assume you know nothing, you’re going to be right a good part of the time.”

As a mystery, the book had me turning the pages to see if my guesses on the villain’s identity were correct. Diver threw in more than a few surprises, including a couple of steamy scenes that I did not expect. Overall the plot kept me guessing, which I found refreshing.

My only disappointment in Bad Blood was that it was more or less a surface romp. I prefer books that make me think. This one was entertainment, pure and simple. That’s not a bad thing; I enjoyed it, but for me it didn’t scratch my preference for intelligent stimulation, or make me dig down into my own principles to question whether I would have done things the same as Tori, or if I would have taken a different route. Even so, sometimes the last thing I want as a reader is an arduous journey into philosophy and ethics. Especially on days that demand a huge concentration of my attention and focus, a delightful modern-day urban fantasy is exactly what YiaYia might recommend.

With concise and consistent characterization and plot, Diver’s Bad Blood is a great start for a series that promises irreverent wit—and tumultuous relationships—throughout. If you’re looking for a fun read with fast-paced action and clever dialogue, Bad Blood should definitely be at the top of your list.