Red Hot Fury by Kasey MacKenzie

RED HOT FURY by Kasey Mackenzie is the first in a new Urban Fantasy series, SHADES OF FURY, published by Ace, and it’s available on June 29th.  From the back cover:

“As a Fury, Marissa Holloway belongs to an arcane race that has avenged wrongdoing since time immemorial.  As Boston’s chief magical investigator for the past five years, she’s doing what she was born to do: solving supernatural crimes.

It’s far from business as usual when the body of a sister Fury washes up in Boston Harbor.  But when Riss reports that the corpse’s identity has been magically altered, she’s immediately – and inexplicably – suspended from her job.  Then a human assassin makes an attempt on her life, and Riss realizes that someone is trying to stir up strife between mortals and arcanes.

When a Fury gets mad, she gets even, and Riss is determined to uncover the truth.  Without the support of the mortal police department, she turns to the one man she can trust to watch her back: shape-shifting Warhound Scott Murphy.  But since Scott is also Riss’ ex, she’ll have to keep a short leash on more then just the supernatural rage that feeds her power as they try to solve a murder – and stop a war…”

Per the FTC guidelines, I received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) from the author for the purposes of this review.  When I was contacted by Ms Mackenzie and asked to review her début novel, I was pretty excited.  I had not seen anything remotely involving Furies outside of myths and legends, so I was interested to see how Ms Mackenzie would use them as her center piece.  As I dusted off my recollections of the Furies, it seemed that they would have a natural fit as investigators since they avenged crimes.

Red Hot Fury Book Cover

I have to admit that I got them slightly mixed up with Harpies.  I thought that was a natural mistake because both are characterized as women with wings, able to hunt down and kill or torture others.  Yes I was correct, however in Ms Mackenzie’s world my mistake was really ‘fighting words’.  Harpies and Furies don’t tend to get along as Ms Mackenzie reveals.  One of the major plot points involves their… shall we say difference of opinion.

While I eagerly anticipated being sucked into the world of Furies and Warhounds, unfortunately I found that RED HOT FURY suffered from a couple of problems that I think stem from the combination of a debut author and the first book of a series.  At it’s essence, this book should provide resolution to the mystery of why the murder, magically faked identity, conspiracy to remove anyone investigating that mystery, and have some sort of romantic, sexual, previous baggage tension between Marissa known as Riss and her ex-lover/boy friend Scott.  Ms Mackenzie delivers those, but I found that they were mixed in with a lot of other subplots points, which made the two main points almost anti-climatic.

The first problem was the amount of world building which came perilously close to info-dumping.  Riss lives in a very complex world populated by numerous members of the arcane that includes Furies, Harpies, Warhounds, Fae, Phoenixes, Giants, Sidhe, Cats, Oracles, Druids, Witches and Goblins.  Not to mention normal and not so normal humans – all of which have their own magical powers and/or skills that they brought to help or hinder Riss’ investigation.  I was introduced to all of these different species or races during this one book with the standard MMPB word count that resulted in limited screen time for several of the representatives.  As a result, I never had a chance to feel that the majority of them were more then two-dimensional.

The second problem is that I think Ms Mackenzie included too many different threads in this single book, which served as introducing the different species and why they crossed Riss’ path.  Most of the subplot threads were neatly – almost too neatly – tied up at the end.  It seemed as if there was too much book for her word count, resulting in a quick conclusion. She left a few lingering threads that will, hopefully, be explored in future books.

Despite those problems, RED HOT FURY was an interesting read.  Riss, as a Fury, was a fascinating character with her own set of faults and she learns some pretty harsh life lessons throughout the book, which provided growth.  I enjoyed seeing her learn that she couldn’t be all Fury and solve her problems.  I am not sure if Scott, her ex, had the same level of character development because I never got the feeling he actually understood what caused the end of their previous relationship.

The initial mystery hooked me enough so that the faults didn’t prevent my finishing the book, because I still wanted to know how Riss would solve her investigation and the subsequent mess.  I also wanted to know how – and if – Scott and Riss would work through their issues.  I think that with the majority of the world building already introduced the next book in the series GREEN EYED ENVY, it will have a smoother flow and focus.  I know that I want answers to those lingering threads…

I am afraid I am going to give this one 2.5 of 5 stars, but I am hopeful that GREEN EYED ENVY will improve.  I think the world that Ms Mackenzie has created is very fascinating, and that she can do a lot with her Furies and other members of the arcane.  I look forward to seeing what comes next.

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