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.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
After reading and enjoying Glitterland by Hall, I heard he had a paranormal mystery series with some interesting twists so I added it to my list of things to read. I found I was more comfortable with Hall’s voice in this story because it went back to my early loves of fantasy, murder, and mystery. As I was reading, I pictured the scenes primarily happening in black and white with the unexpected splash of color like Bogey and Bacall.
Hall created a very different world populated with interesting characters. He took everyday sights and sounds coupled with ancient history and applied a touch of magic to either explain their presence or to give them animation. I traveled to exclusive clubs, isolated boardrooms, wild forests, treacherous sewers, and several other not exactly pleasant places following Kate along her murder investigation path. Along the way Kate dealt with vampires, werewolves, witches, and the occasional other supernatural creature who didn’t necessarily have Kate’s best interests in mind.
I found Kate a very compelling individual. She was smart, tenacious and did not have the best taste in relationships. Kate had a complicated background. She wasn’t exactly human herself and the side-effects of her parentage were not exactly predictable or always controllable even when they gave her what could be perceived as an advantage. Her former partner was killed a few months earlier and Kate thought it was her fault. As a result she spent her days and sometimes her nights wallowing in her office trying to drink her woes away. Then a new client, a vampire walked in. Kate normally avoided vampires because she had a complicated past with them but she couldn’t turn down this particular case.
One of things I enjoyed in this story was how Hall flipped gender expectations around but retained the same title terminology so until you met certain characters you did not know if they were going to be male or female. This added to the difficulty of determining not just who the murderer was but also why the murder occurred. Kate’s investigation was hindered by interspecies rivalry and her own attraction to the powerful, deadly women who ran a few of the more powerful groups. It was at this point I felt the gender of the individuals involved really impacted what happened next.
The mystery aspect was also fascinating. I was initially concerned Hall would solve the murder early in the story but as the events continued to unfold what appeared rather straightforward became a tangled mess stretching over the ages and through a variety of worlds. Kate did have some assistance while she was investigating but I think my favorite was the animated statue and her skill with inanimate mechanical objects. She provided a lovely bit of comedic relief and I hope she is an enduring character in this series.
I said at the beginning that this book reminded me of Bogey and Bacall but there was a crucial difference. The Kate at the end of Iron & Velvet isn’t the same Kate I met in the beginning. She learned a lot about herself and made some decisions that will have repercussions on her life. A few of those were starting to develop as this installment ended. There were a few characters I wished were more developed but I found Kate and the world fascinating. I enjoyed seeing a different side to Hall’s writing and I look forward to exploring this particular incarnation of England in future installments.
I give Iron & Velvet a B+