In deference to Mimi, I’m letting my four stars stand.
“Lily’s years in Vice and Homicide prior to making detective had rubbed the green off, but her shield was still shiny. She figured she could be philosophical about handing this one off to one of the senior detectives… after she conducted the initial interviews at Club Hell.”
Originally read back in my urban fantasy heyday, Tempting Danger was written in 2004 and added to my library back in 2010 (I have no actual clue when I read it) with a four star rating. I’m guessing I found Wilks through an anthology, On the Prowl, back when I was looking for more UF that wasn’t completely paranormal romance, and on that level, it mostly satisfies.
It begins with Detective Lily Yu at a murder scene, examining a person who has clearly been killed by a large animal. Werewolves, or lupi, are no longer shot on sight, but this killing could re-open human-lupi hostilities, especially as poster-boy-lupi Rule is the lead suspect.
“Everyone else reacted. Not Turner. He didn’t shift position by so much as a finger. Rather, he seemed to gather stillness around him like a force field, a quiet whose power lapped out over the others, gradually silencing them. He spoke two words: “Who died?””
The narration is third person and primarily from Lily’s point of view. She’s easily one of my favorite things about the book. Methodical and analytical, she feels like an experienced detective, despite being only 28. We get a solid sense of her background in the department, her strategies for dealing with her peers, and her sometimes-challenging relationships with her family. It becomes almost a running joke with her and Rule that she has “a couple more questions,” both professionally and personally. Secondary viewpoint is from Rule, with very minor page time given to another lupi, Cullen.
The plot is interesting, and a nice combination of police procedural and UF Big-Bad-Threat. It moves quickly, and Lily and Rule’s separate problems end up dovetailing nicely.
It’s interesting, to go back and read a book in a genre that has since exploded. There were aspects that felt very tropish to me, which is to say, the way people acted was not particularly surprising. It made me think quite a bit about UF conventions and where they came from. The first Sookie Stackhouse came out in 2001, Kate Daniels in 2007, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan in 2004, Rachel Caine published her first UF in 2003, Carrie Vaughn in 2004, Marjorie Liu in 2005, Karen Chance in 2006, Cassandra Clare in 2007, Patrica Briggs’ Mercy 2007, Jeaniene Frost in 2007, Karen Marie Moning in 2007, Nalini Singh 2006. By contrast, the first Anita Blake was in 1993, so perhaps it is not any wonder that this had an Anita Blake vibe to it. Wilks also had solid history publishing romance before this series, so that is evident as well.
There’s parts about this that feel perhaps a bit stereotypical, but Wilks writes with such skill that things that might have been eye-rolling for me in a lesser writer just seem appropriate, if not fantastic. For instance, a Native American doctor-earth healer, a grandmother with mystical connections and the precog in the wheelchair all had the potential to become ugly tropes but empathetically were not.
Verdict? This holds up on re-read to an older, less patient carol., who would easily give it 3.5 stars. If a detective-paranormal is your jam, bring on the bread. I think I’ll be dipping in and out of this series to see what Lily has been up to.