Every now and then I read a review that mentions something along the lines of, “I’m not going to summarize this book because you can read the description.”
You kids are so cute with your functioning memories. Despite having placed book #7 of the series on my TBR list, I did not remember the general plots of books #3-#6, so I decided that I must have skipped them. Until I reached the last third of Mortal Sins and recognized a particularly tense emotional scene. I thought I remembered how it turned out, but I peeked to be sure. So I will continue to remind myself of the plots, who narrates and all those silly things, because apparently, if I don’t, I won’t.
However, don’t consider that a mark against Mortal Sins or this series. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that people who would like a police procedural combined with a world rich in lupi and magic could do far worse than to pick up Eileen Wilk’s World of the Lupi series. In most of them, particularly the first, Detective Lily Yu and Rule Turner, poster boy for the lupi-rights movement, are the leading protagonists. As the series progresses, each book may bring in other viewpoints depending on the case being worked. Mortal Sins concentrates almost exclusively on the stories of Lily and Rule as they attempt to wrap up issues in D.C./Virginia area.
Mortal Sins has two major plots: the personal one of a custody hearing for Rule’s son, Toby; and the professional one of a series of seemingly unconnected killers who are almost fatally confused and whose victims smell of death magic. I thought the balance between the two was handled quite well, resulting in Lily and Rule feeling like a typical busy professional couple who were trying to balance needs of personal, family and professional lives. When Rule discovers the missing victims and both he and Lily note the death magic, she eagerly takes over the case on behalf of the FBI. Meanwhile, as Rule deals with Leidolf pack issues from the last book, the press gets wind he is in town on personal matters.
It’s fun to watch Lily work, as her competence, focus, and drive often set those unused to her off balance. There’s often some power dynamics when has to work with other agencies, and Wilks doesn’t shy from bringing up sex, race, or species issues. Honestly, it’s always a pleasure. Lily’s such a thinking person, and her technique is to ask frequent questions, which often results in interesting answers for both her and the reader. Rule, however, often seems to be the feeling part of the couple, an absolutely enjoyable turnaround from normal female and male characterizations. The investigation struggles at first, as the team tries to sort out likely from unlikely scenarios. The fact that a great deal of magic was let into the world seven months ago means everyone is still discovering ramifications.
Wilks does a nice job of keeping the focus on the investigation and the family issues without getting distracted too much by prior plots or side characters. That said, it is likely a series that is harder to pick up without reading book one and two where Wilks does a more thorough introduction to her world. There’s a bit of awkward info-dumping in the beginning of this one, but it’s a nice shorthand for those forgetful folks (cough, cough). I thought characterization was extremely impressive, from Lily and Rule progressing, to Toby’s nine-year-old perspective, to Granny.
I’d recommend this series to fans of urban fantasy. I think if you wanted to like Anne Bishop’s ‘The Others’ series, but found it boring and illogical, this might be more palatable. Or if you liked early Anita Blake (minus the multiple sex scenes; while present here, they are quickly completed). I also suspect fans of the earlier Kate Daniels might enjoy this; while there isn’t the prevalent humor and new mythology, there’s a kick-ass, competent woman in charge. Thinking about it, I’d say it most feels like Shaefer’s Daniel Faust series, with less smart-ass. Really, it’s become my new favorite candy series, although it feels more satisfying than your average Skittles. Maybe it’s a brownie read: solid and satisfying.
Note: series continues to maintain it’s lead for “Worst Cover Art for a Series,” 2018 reads edition.