Iron & Velvet
By Alexis Hall
Published on December 16th 2013
Published by Riptide Publishing
Published by Riptide Publishing
First rule in this line of business: don’t sleep with the client.
My name’s Kate Kane, and when an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince came to me with a case, I should have told her no. But I’ve always been a sucker for a femme fatale.
It always goes the same way. You move too fast, you get in too deep, and before you know it, someone winds up dead. Last time it was my partner. This time it could be me. Yesterday a werewolf was murdered outside the Velvet, the night-time playground of one of the most powerful vampires in England. Now half the monsters in London are at each other’s throats, and the other half are trying to get in my pants. The Witch Queen will protect her own, the wolves are out for vengeance, and the vampires are out for, y’know, blood.
I’ve got a killer on the loose, a war on the horizon, and a scotch on the rocks. It’s going to be an interesting day.
Um, a noir-esque book about a contemporary real-world lesbian paranormal investigator? Sign me up! That's pretty much what I thought when I read the summary here. And for the most part, I was totally on board with Iron & Velvet as we learned about the crime that Kate Kane is hired to investigate.
Kate investigates paranormal-related crimes, but she never works for vampires... until now. When the vampire Prince of Cups, Julian Saint Germain, comes calling, asking Kate to investigate a murder on her turf, Kate finds it impossible to say no. Julian can be very, very persuasive. Kate's investigation takes her all across London, into werewolf territory and mage territory and a creepy fae-controlled forest, not to mention the sewers (blech). There's been a lot of worldbuilding, much of which I bet will pay off in later books, as we learn about all of the different kinds of supernatural creatures that exist in Kate's world.
Through it all, Kate is a tough-talking, sassy lead character who is a delight to read. She's got some supernatural goings-on of her own, which gives her an added dimension of interesting, especially when things get tough. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud funny moments, and this is a book thick with banter and melodramatic ancient supernatural creatures and did I mention lots of sass? It's not without its serious moments, especially as Kate has to make some very tough decisions to save her friends, however.
I think one of my biggest problems with this book is that, while it was a quick read that kept my attention in the process, it was kind of forgettable after the fact. It was a fun book, but nothing that really stuck with me when I was done. I could tell you the broad strokes of the story, and when I poke in at other reviews, I remember other bits that I liked, but names of supporting characters, or things like who is on what side of the fight, escape me, and I only finished reading this a day or so ago. Sometimes it felt like there was just too much going on to make a real strong connection to more of the characters.
Also, despite the fact that this is the first in a series, there's a lot of backstory that is mentioned in passing -- like Kate's former business partner's death, or Kate's relationship with Nim -- that could have been more fleshed out. As it was, I often felt like I was missing part of the story. I'm sure those details will come to light more in future books, and I feel like this is a hallmark of the mystery/noir genre anyway (give your MC a tragic and mysterious past and only reference little bits of it). I really just like to know All the Things!
Overall, this was an enjoyable mystery which really picked up the pace in the back half. There are a few steamy scenes and a lot of murders and violence, both supernatural and otherwise, so this book is recommended for mature readers.