Reviewed by: Margaret
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Note: While review will be spoiler free, it does make reference to previous books in the series.
I’m a huge fan of paranormal police procedurals, but they are usually quite dark. The SPI Files series is definitely an exception to that rule. It’s a funny, pop-culture-infused take on the genre. Makenna Fraser is a Southern girl from a long line of seers, able to see through glamour and identify the supernaturals hiding among humans. Her partner Ian Byrne is a former NYPD detective and all-around badass. Together they solve supernatural crimes and try to keep the human population in the dark.
The Brimstone Deception is probably the most straightforward police case in the series so far. Mac and Ian investigate a series of murders connected to a new drug called Brimstone. When they discover that it contains actual brimstone imported from hell, the case becomes a bit more complicated. In order to stop the drug-dealing killers, they have to find and close the door to the underworld before it’s too late and New York is overrun with demons.
One of my favorite things about this series is the supporting characters. I love the variety of supernatural species that make up SPI—their dragon lady boss is literally a dragon, and their lawyer is actually a vampire. Shearin didn’t introduce many new characters here, just Marty the demon expert who’s about as far from John Constantine as you can get—he shows up for a trip to hell carrying a camera.
But we also get to know some of the existing characters better, like Kitty who runs Mac’s favorite bakery and is descended from an infamous witch who liked to use her oven for more nefarious purposes. But my favorite SPI agent, Kenji the techie elf who looks like young Spock, is mentioned but never appears in person. (The book is full of Star Wars references, so maybe Shearin just didn’t want to mix fandoms.)
I’m not completely sold on the goblin billionaire Rake Danescu as a love interest for Mac, though none of the characters other than Rake himself are sold on it either. He’s a Trent Kalamack type, always at the top of the suspect list but also always having the information they need to solve the case. I did like the fact that he finally got to do some magic in this story. I also got to know him better over the course of the book, so for now I’m reserving judgment.
I enjoyed The Brimstone Deception, but nothing about it wowed me. Still, it’s a nice break from some of the heavy urban fantasy in my to-be-read pile. This series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but I read recently that Shearin is writing book four. I’m glad that I’m getting more SPI and I hope to find that wow that I felt in the first book again.
Sexual content: kissing of hands