As part of my Old Years Resolutions (things I wanted to complete before the end of the year), I finished the Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland. This was a long time coming as I received the book in the mail at the beginning of November and it became the pilot book in my Geobooking experiment. If you are interested in it, check the tab above. But this is not about the Geobooking, this is about Mark of the Demon.
This story follows Detective Kara Gillian through the opening of an investigation into a series of ritual murders. She is taking a particular interest in them because in addition to being a detective with the police department, she is also a demon summoning magic practitioner. She believes the Symbol Man is also a summoner and is working to uncover who he is and what he is attempting to summon with strong blood magic.
At the heart of the book it is an urban fantasy (she is summoning demons after all), but it is also a solid police procedural. When Kara talks, she sounds like a cop to me. For those of you who base their opinions on this from watching episodes of Castle or Law & Order, let me explain. When many cops are talking to other cops (read not dealing with the public) they use colorful language. Diana Rowalnd should know this better than most as she has worked as a police officer – among other positions in the police department.
To put this more bluntly, Kara Gillian drops the “f bomb” – a lot. For my part, this makes her more believable to me. She is not only a cop, but a practitioner that is used to summoning demons whenever the alignment works in her favor. I am neither a cop nor a demon summoner, but having spent time in retail, I can tell you the more time you spend in the public eye censoring yourself, the less you censor yourself in private.
Now that I have addressed the language of the book, let’s look at the content. This is not only a police procedural, but also has strong mystery elements to it. There are twists and reveals through the book. There were parts where I thought I knew what was going on and I was not always right. In fact my percentage was less than it usually is in television or movies. Of course my success rate in those medias is pretty ridiculous.
By the end of the book, I found myself caring about the characters, or at least some of them. I was even beginning to wonder by the last chapter if some of the major characters were going to be continuing on in the next book or if the theme and world would continue on with a new set of protagonists. For me that is the sign of a good series. In most cases I would not be concerned for the safety of the main character as I know they will be around for the next one – especially if the next book has already been announced.
In summary, if you are easily offended by murder scenes, dealing with demons or realistic language this might not be the book for you. If you are interested in a realistic police procedural with a supernatural twist to it, this is an incredibly fun and believable read. I will push this one through at 4 out of 5 Dancing Zombies – a solid B+. (Honestly for me, I would put it at an A as it made me rethink the voice of my cop protagonist entirely.)