Amber Farrell is a PI who can’t seem to get away from the ‘weird’ cases. You know, the ones with wolves and a naked man, or people who shouldn’t be able to move at the speeds shown caught on tape. So when a rich client comes knocking to have her latest problems solved, essentially broke Amber agrees to take her multifaceted business problems on.
What unfolds is a story that, while not entirely unique, does take some fun, new twists in the realm of urban fantasy. Amber is an ex-military special ops—the kind that officially never exist. She’s been bitten by one of those who go bump in the night – the Athanate, who are a new, different take on vampires.
The story is compelling, even if it does suffer from a few UF tropes. Amber is well and truly mixed into it as the Athanate’s problems are linked to her client’s problems, and her client’s problems grow as their relationship unfolds. There’s a big mix between straight-up mystery and urban fantasy, with most of the fantasy coming in under Amber’s personal struggles to understand her condition and deal with it.
Ironically, Amber’s strong, almost mannish attitude about her life ends up being a drawback as well as a benefit. It was refreshing not having to listen to her angst between dudes, and instead express her disappointment at not getting laid. On the other hand, Amber’s lack of internal monologue meant that, at times, I didn’t feel as connected with her throughout the entire book. Once we get to anything personal, it was much easier to relate to her and the story, but a few chapters felt more like a story sequence going through rather than Amber dealing with these problems.
Overall, Sleight of Hand is a great start to an UF series, and one that, with development, could really shine on its own as something separate from other Urban Fantasies, with enough of the genre’s comforts to keep it firmly settled in UF’s grasp.
Sleight of Hand can be found at: