Monday, June 24, 2019

A wildly creative urban fantasy by @Cristelle Comby -- #Review #Giveaway #Detective

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There’s “hard to kill”—and then there’s Bellamy Vale.

After narrowly preventing the destruction of Cold City, PI Bellamy Vale needs a rest. Or rather, he needs a plain and simple vanilla case—no monsters or otherworldly creatures involved! When foreign businessman Eli Smith shows up at his doorstep with a thick wallet and a request to find his missing sister, Vale doesn’t think twice before agreeing. If he’d known body-hopping demons and smoke monsters came attached to this job, however, he might have.

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Private investigator Bellamy Vale is a man who knows too much – specifically too much about the dark supernatural forces that exist in parallel with our ordinary world, and which occasionally spill over the boundaries into the light of day. He has just finished mopping up after an apocalyptic rift in the fabric of reality that released incalculable evil – and incidentally leveled the entire downtown area of Cold City in the process. Now all that Bell wants is a shower to wash off the ectoplasmic goo, two aspirin for his painful bruises, and some sleep.

Instead he gets a new client, a cadaverous gentleman with an unusually acute sense of smell who wants Bell’s help to find his missing sister. The PI is pretty sure there’s something weird about this guy, but the client has cold cash, and his story stirs Bell’s sympathy. As the two pursue the slender leads they have available, Bellamy learns that Eli Smith and his sister Sarit are both djinn, and that the hot shot fashion designer who has kidnapped her is the vessel for an ifrit, an ageless evil being whom the djinn have been battling for eons.

This is definitely not what Bell signed on for, but what can he do? It’s his destiny to fight creatures of darkness – and to hide the fact that such creatures exist from the mortals around him, including his girlfriend, Police Sergeant Melanie Ramirez.

Evil Embers is a lively, surprising urban fantasy with an engaging hero. I really appreciated Cristelle Comby’s creativity. She brings all sorts of supernatural elements into the mix: Middle Eastern demons, Greek gods, Cherokee shamans, ghosts, poltergeist, zombies... honestly, you never know what you’re going to run into in Cold City!

Superficially Vale is modeled after the classic cynical and hard-boiled PI of noir detective novels, but in fact he’s got a soft heart and a strong moral compass. He hates the fact that he has to lie to his girlfriend. He hates even more the way this destroys his relationship. However, he has no choice For one thing, his soul is more or less owned by Lady Death, who has promised him he won’t die as long as he does her errands. This enigmatic femme fatale (quite literally!) only shows up twice in the book, but those were my favorite scenes. I also greatly enjoyed the character of Zian, the computer whiz who’s the estranged son of Hermes, Messenger of the Gods.

I had two complaints about the book. First, I had a hard time following the (many) fight scenes. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention, or maybe they weren’t described clearly, but I found myself becoming confused.

Second, the book needed better editing. I noted multiple grammar errors (mostly related to verb tense) as well as some incorrect word usage. It’s possible these problems might not catch the attention of the average reader, but since I’m also an editor, I couldn’t help but notice.

Neither of these issues spoiled what was for the most part a very entertaining read. If you like magic in myriad forms, you’ll likely enjoy Evil Embers.


So what if it was mid-February? The way I was feeling that morning, I planned to sleep until New Year came around again. Hells, as far as I was concerned, I earned it ten times over. I put an end to a string of gruesome killings, prevented the apocalypse our former mayor intended for us, and I’d stuck around long enough to clean up the mess she and her minions left behind. All that thinking took out the last bit of energy I had. I closed my eyes, found a way to lie down that didn’t hurt too much, and let sleep throw its soothing blanket over me.

And then someone knocked at the door.

I groaned at the wrong timing but kept my eyes shut. There was no way in Tartarus that I was getting back up again so soon. Whoever it was could get lost.

The knocking came again.

It was more insistent this time. I could hear a sense of urgency to the motion. I forced one eye open and frowned. The sunlight streaming in from the window was too bright for it to be morning and the angle it bounced off the floorboards was all wrong. I opened my second eye and glanced at the clock on the bedside table…Three in the afternoon.

The hells?” I muttered, wondering where the day went while I shook my head to clear out the cobwebs.

The knock came a third time and I got up, grumbling all the way to the door. I didn’t bother to put clothes on or to tidy myself up before opening it. I was clad only in an old pair of sweatpants with a variety of cuts, bruises, and bandages on full display throughout my upper body. I hadn’t shaved in a week, and I was sure my hair was a sweaty mess of brown locks and dried blood.

Who knows, I thought, maybe the sight of me will convince my uninvited guest to let me get back to my coma.

If the man in the hallway took notice of my state, he didn’t let it show. He was tall and sickly thin under his rumbled three-piece suit. His pale skin provided some severe contrast with the purple bags under his brown eyes. He was somewhere between forty and forty-five. His angular face wasn’t familiar, and my frown deepened.

He looked like a potential client, the I-want-to-know-who- my-wife-is-banging type, but they rarely showed up to my private address unannounced. I made a lot of enemies in my professional career, not all of them on this side of the border, so my business card only listed my cell number.

The suit he wore appeared brand new, but I frowned more as I realized something didn’t add up. I was no fashion expert, but the matching of colors between the vest and shirt was off, brownish orange shirt covered by a purple jacket. Oh, and he wore a tie that matched his jacket…ugh. The light brown shoes were also at odds with the indigo blue pants. And there was the smell on the guy. It wasn’t a garbage smell—I’d been around enough of that over the last month to know it at first whiff—but there was a smoky quality about it that stood out.

I filed the information away for later and looked the man squarely in the eye. “What?” I croaked, my tongue feeling too thick and my mouth too dry.

Bellamy Vale?” he asked, with an accent that wasn’t from around here…Middle Eastern, maybe?

I jerked my thumb at the bell next to the door. It had my name on it.

The man peered down at it perplexed, then pressed the round button. A shrill ringing shot out of the tiny plastic box above the door, and the sound sent sharp needles dancing through my brain. I winced in pain.

Yeah—yeah, that’s me.” I rushed the words out, eager to make the noise stop. Damn, but my head was killing me. My odd gentleman caller took his finger off the button to look at me again.

I need your help,” he said, “to find my sister.”

I needed help too, preferably in the form of another round of painkillers. But that was going to have to wait. I waved my potential new client inside.

About the Author

Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, where she still resides.

She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.

She is the author of the Neve & Egan Cases series, which features an unlikely duo of private detectives in London: Ashford Egan, a blind History professor, and Alexandra Neve, one of his students.

Currently, she is hard at work on her Urban Fantasy series Vale Investigation which chronicles the exploits of Death’s only envoy on Earth, PI Bellamy Vale, in the fictitious town of Cold City, USA.

Cristelle Comby will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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Bernie Wallace said...

What is the best book that you have read in 2019 so far?

Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Cristelle!

I enjoyed reading Evil Embers. What's the title of the previous volume? I'm really curious about Bell's history with Lady Death.

Bea LaRocca said...

Congratulations on this nice review! Evil Embers sounds like an awesome read.

Mya Murphy said...

Embers sounds amazing!! And, I can't wait to read this!! Cover is eye-catching and unique!

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