review: dark magic

Dark Magic by Adam J. Wright (2016)

Dark Magic is the third book in Adam J. Wright’s Harbinger P.I. series. If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, Lost Soul and Buried Memory, I strongly recommend checking out my review of the first book here before reading on. Spoilers are ahead if you’ve not read the first two books. You’ve been warned.

While I am a woman on a book budget and will use my KU subscription to help me satisfy my reading addiction and stay within my budget, I also believe in supporting my favorite authors by buying their books when I can. So although Dark Magic is available in the KU library, I spent some of my book budget buying the title, and I’m not at all disappointed. Dark Magic picks up just a few minutes after the moment where Buried Memory ends. Felicity has returned to Dearmont and reveals that she has broken off her engagement to Jason, and Alec tells her about everything he learned about himself during the course of Buried Memory (which I’m going to do my best not to spoil here). Mallory has gone to search for Mister Scary and, with the exception of a short phone call between her and Alec, remains absent for the whole of the third book.

Remember back to the beginning of Buried Memory, where Amy Cantrell comes to Alec and asks him to investigate her mother’s death and she reveals that her mother was killed by the preternatural investigator who worked in Dearmont prior to Alec’s arrival? In book two, Alec learns that Mary Cantrell was one of thirteen people massacred at a church in Clara, a town down the road from Dearmont. It seems that Alec is going to further investigate this massacre but then he gets called to London by his father. Well, it’s in book three that we pick up the threads of that mystery and find Alec investigating what happened in Clara. In this way, Buried Memory and Dark Magic feel like companion books, with the mystery surrounding the massacre at the church in Clara standing as the outer frame of the story and the mystery surrounding Alec’s sudden summons to London and the hunt for a traitor within the Society operating as the inner frame. For this reason I’m glad I read these two books in quick proximity to each other, and I’d recommend readers of this series do the same.

With Dark Magic being the third book in this series, I would expect to begin seeing some further development of the supporting characters in addition to seeing continued evolution in the protagonist. This book focuses on the development of two relationships—the one between Alec and Sheriff Cantrell and the one between Alec and Felicity. More than in any of the previous books, Wright spends some time developing Felicity as a love interest. On the one hand, this is what we expected all along, right? On the other hand, well, I don’t find anything compelling about them as a couple. In other words, if this were a television show, I would not be shipping them. Still, it’s fine and not distracting or anything that would make me want to throw the book across the room. The relationship between Alec and Sheriff Cantrell, on the other hand, does hold my interest and I’m invested in seeing where it goes. Sheriff Cantrell’s dislike for Alec stems from his hatred for Sherry Westlake, the P.I. he believes is responsible for the massacre at the church where Mary Cantrell died. Throughout the story, Alec must deal with the Sheriff’s animosity even while working with him on the case. In a way, gaining Cantrell’s respect is the equivalent of gaining full acceptance into the community of Dearmont. It’s also important (at least, I think it’s important) to see Cantrell as a contrast to Alec’s father, Thomas. By the end of the novel, what we have is a solidification of a trusted Scooby Gang for Alec, composed of the Sheriff, Amy Cantrell, Felicity, Leon (the computer whiz) and his butler/bodyguard, Michael, and Devon and Victoria Blackwell. Moving forward, it will be worth watching how Wright uses the supporting cast of characters to weave in conflict as well as a sense of family into the story.

Three books into this series, I’m still invested in the characters and their stories and the world Wright is building. I’m still waiting patiently to find out more about Alec’s back story and the secret of his true nature, and I’m also waiting to see what will happen with Mallory, her search for Mister Scary, and whether or not Alec will eventually help her bring her search to a conclusion. I still want to know the true motives and goals of Alec’s father, Thomas, because at the end of book three, I haven’t yet decided whether he is friend or foe (in fact, Thomas reminds a little bit of Jack Bristow from Alias, but it’s still to be determined if he’s the kind of father who is always acting in the best interest of his child with his sole intent to be protect Alec, or if he’s the kind of father willing to sacrifice his own son for some nefarious purpose or seemingly greater good).

I liked Dark Magic and think the books in the Harbinger P.I. series get better with each new installment. I recommend this series if you like urban fantasy (especially light urban fantasy that isn’t too dark or overly complex). The next book in this series, Dead Ground, is already in my reading list. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Have you read Dark Magic or the Harbinger, P.I. series? What do you think?

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