Best of 2018 “Dark Urban Fantasy / Paranormal” Category

Wrecked by Joe Ide (Hackette Book Group; October 9, 2018):

Isaiah Quintabe—IQ for short—has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ’s PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ’s promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services.

So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it’s not just the case Isaiah’s looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can’t see coming.

Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah’s not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back—and the adventures are better than ever.

 

Suspense Magazine (S. MAG.): Hollywood pitches are very brief. How would you pitch your book to the movies in ten words or less?

Joe Ide (J.I.): IQ is Sherlock in the hood.

 

MAG.: Is there a book, written by another, that you wish you’d written?

J.I.: Many. This year: “Child 44” by Tom Rob Smith, “My Absolute Darling” by Gabriel Tallent, “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer, “Wonder Valley” by Ivy Pochoda, “Liars Club” by Mary Karr, “Rules by Civility” by Amor Towles, “Desperation Road” by Michael Farris Smith, “The Feral Detective” by Jonathan Lethem.

 

MAG.: If you could write a message to future aspiring authors and place it in a time capsule to read years later, what would you write?

J.I.: Have a backup plan.

 

MAG.: Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t an author, I would be ___________.

J.I.: Some variety of bum. I’d be living in a motel with a woman who drinks wine out of a box and maybe has a couple of teeth missing, and since writing is my only marketable skill I’d be working at 7-11 stocking shelves with pumpkin seeds and tampons because the register was too complicated or feeding mice to the boa constrictors at Petco or smearing icing on the Cinnabons for the same reason. I’d spend my nights at the library reading books I wished I’d written or watching Jeopardy! and getting all the answers wrong or sleeping on the couch with my three cats, Napoleon, Jared Kushner and Susan B. Anthony. I have to go now. If I don’t meet my deadline I’ll be living in a motel with a woman who drinks wine out of a box etc. etc.

 

“Serpentine” by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley; August 7, 2018):

Vampire hunter Anita Blake has always managed to overcome everything she faces. But this time there’s a monster that even she doesn’t know how to fight . . .

A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend, Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties . . .

In this tropical paradise, Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blow up within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse, her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret—if she survives at all, that is . . .

 

 

“The Thief” by J.R. Ward (Ballantine Books; April 10, 2018):

Sola Morte, former cat burglar and safecracker, has given up her old life on the wrong side of the law. On the run from a drug lord’s family, she is lying low far from Caldwell, keeping her nose clean and her beloved grandmother safe. Her heart, though, is back up north, with the only man who has ever gotten through her defenses: Assail, son of Assail, who never meant to fall in love—and certainly not with a human woman. But they have no future, and not just because she doesn’t know he is a vampire, but because he is not about to stop dealing arms to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Fate, however, has other plans for them. When Assail falls into a coma and lingers on the verge of death, his cousins seek out Sola and beg her to give him a reason to live. The last thing she wants is a return to her past, but how can she leave him to die?

As a lethal new enemy of the vampires shows its face, and the Brotherhood needs Assail back on his feet, Sola finds herself not only a target, but a mission-critical force in a war she doesn’t understand. And when Assail’s truth comes out, will she run from the horror . . . or follow her heart into the arms of the male who loves her more than life itself?

 

 

 

“High Voltage” by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte Press; March 6, 2018):

There is no action without consequence.

Dani O’Malley was nine years old when the delusional, sadistic Rowena transformed her into a ruthless killer. Years later, Dani is tough and hardened, yet achingly vulnerable and fiercely compassionate, living alone by her own exacting code. Despite the scars on her body, and driven by deeper ones carved into her soul, no one is more committed to protecting Dublin. By day she ensures the safety of those she rescues, by night she hunts evil, dispensing justice swiftly and without mercy, determined to give to those she cares for the peace she has never known.

There is no power without price.

When the Faerie Queen used the dangerously powerful Song of Making to heal the world from the damage done by the Hoar Frost King, catastrophic magic seeped deep into the earth, giving rise to horrifying, unforeseen consequences—and now deadly enemies plot in the darkness, preparing to enslave the human race and unleash an ancient reign of Hell on Earth.

There is no future without sacrifice.

With the lethal, immortal Ryodan at her side, armed with the epic Sword of Light, Dani once again battles to save the world, but her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance, demanding an unspeakable price for the power she needs to save the human race. And no one—not even Ryodan, who would move the very stars for her—can save her this time.

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