Living with the Dead (Women of the Otherworld #9)
Robyn Peltier moved to Los Angeles after her young husband’s sudden death, trying to put some distance between herself and her memories. Though she’s still grieving, the challenges of her new life as the PR consultant to Portia Kane—the world’s most famous celebutante wannabe—can sometimes be amusing, even distracting. But when her client is gunned down in the back room of a nightclub, Robyn is suddenly on the run as the prime suspect in the murder. And as more bodies pile up around her, it seems like only Hope Adams, Robyn’s best friend, and Hope’s somewhat spooky boyfriend Karl are on Robyn’s side. Hope Adams follows the kinds of stories whose headlines scream from supermarket checkout lines. But the difference is that Hope’s stories are even weirder—and they’re all true. Though determined to help Robyn, Hope knows it’s only a matter of time before her friend is caught. But it’s not the police Hope is worried about. For Robyn has gotten herself in the middle of a turf war between two powerful Otherworld cabals who’ll spill any amount of blood—human and inhuman—to protect what they consider theirs for all eternity. And the only way Hope can keep her friend alive is by letting her enter a world she’s safer knowing nothing about.
Investigating the case is Detective John Finnley. Finn’s a necromancer, though he doesn’t even really know what that means. He only knows that he occasionally sees ghosts… a skill that helps him believe Robyn is innocent, not only of her client’s murder but other deaths that are piling up in her wake. The ghosts of the victims help lead his way, and so does (eventually) the ghost of Robyn’s husband.
Earlier, I mentioned that this story is disturbing. That’s due almost entirely to our villain, a sociopathic clairvoyant named Adele. She is the real killer. It’s not because she enjoys killing; she’s just looking out for number one. You see, Robyn’s client had the misfortune of accidentally taking an incriminating photo of Adele. That leads to her death. And the deaths that follow are also to keep Adele’s secret — that she is trying to escape from her commune of clairvoyants to join the Nast cabal. That doesn’t sound that bad… standard bad-guy stuff. But there’s more to her schemes. She slips birth control pills to one of her commune sisters, knowing it will eventually force the girl into what’s essentially gang rape when she can’t conceive a child by her husband. The husband Adele wanted for her own. She has sex with a mentally disabled boy to manipulate him into sharing his powers with her, and gets pregnant with his child. Then she seduces his younger brother, a 15 year-old, to hide the baby’s paternity. She doesn’t care what she has to do or who she has to do it to, to get what she wants.
Adele is really a product of the environment she has grown up in… although undoubtedly, she is the worst case scenario. The commune beats its children to instill fear of the cabals; it inbreeds; uses the disabled for their powers; and we’ve already talked about the forced sex. It even kills those whose powers are too weak to make them useful. And even as I try to describe all this, I know it doesn’t do it justice.
There’s a lot going on here. In addition to all the stuff with Robyn, Finn & Adele, we can’t forget about Hope and Karl. Their relationship is at a crossroads. And Hope has a lot of uncertainty about her future. And in the end, we see that the major developments in this book and the previous ones are intertwined, perhaps in some greater purpose, or bigger picture. I find that very intriguing. It was a solid installment… it just felt… off. And I missed the romance.