I do love me some urban fantasy, and Stephen Blackmoore’s Eric Carter series seems to be right up my alley.
More thoughts and SPOILERS after the cut.
Broken Souls is the second novel in the series after Dead Things. Eric Carter is a mage with a specialty in necromancy. This means that he can see and communicate with ghosts, who often don’t have much to say. He fled his hometown of Los Angeles 15 years prior to the start of the series after getting in bad with some mage mafia types. He only returned when word reached him of the violent death of his sister. He came back to find out who did it and get back at them. The long and the short of it was, it wasn’t who Eric thought it was, and he ended up married to the Aztec Goddess of Death in her modern guise of Santa Muerte…only to learn she the one who killed his sister in an elaborate plot to get him to marry her.
Broken Souls picks up a few months later. Eric is living in a cheap motel, avoiding his ex-girlfriend Vivian while trying to keep an eye on her. His best friend died, and Viv was about to move in with said friend, and she doesn’t care to see Eric anymore. Eric is also trying to find a way out of this marriage pact he’s in with a skeletal woman in a wedding dress, and his first attempt to an older mage goes poorly when it turns out said older mage was killed before the meeting and the killer managed to steal his skin, his form, his memories, and his skills. The last thing Eric needs is a shapeshifting killer who can be anybody.
Well, actually, the last thing he needs is to see visions of his dead friend. Eric knows a thing or two about ghosts and knows Alex isn’t one…so what is he?
Blackmoore’s style is fairly fast-paced and frenetic. Unlike a lot of the various urban fantasy narrators, Carter actually does seem like something of the asshole people tell him he is. It’s not that he’s rude or particularly self-centered, but he does have a fairly low life vibe to him, to say nothing of his lack of trust in just about everybody. He keeps secrets, sometimes for good reasons, but doing so costs him with other people.
Besides the main plot of the novel, this book reveals more about Carter’s possible consequences as Santa Muerte’s husband. There are other Aztec gods involved, Carter doesn’t know who’s telling him the truth, and it doesn’t look good for Carter by novel’s end, though he does have a new goal in mind that could get him out of his current predicament.
I really enjoy the Eric Carter books. They tend to zip by as I read them, and I’m looking forward to the next one which will I am sure finish off the trilogy. I’m giving this one a massive ten out of ten shapeshifting Russian mobsters. Check this series out if you like urban fantasy with a noir feel.