Title: Urban Shaman
Author: Lyn Gala
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 270 pages
Characters: Miguel Rassin & Nicolai Adelman
POV: Third Limited
Sub-Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal
New York City cop Miguel Rassin’s life is going downhill fast. He’s got a spotty record from the Army, a one-night stand who won’t go away, and a flock of reporters trying to crucify him for shooting a civilian waving a toy pistol. Now kids are turning up missing in the Bronx, and he’s partnered with by-the-book Detective Rob Jackson, a man with problems of his own. Their first suspect is a local shaman, Nikolai Adelman, who is either the strangest holy man ever or a con working his own angle.
Miguel’s trying to navigate a baffling case that has more questions than answers, caught between a surprising physical desire for Nikolai and his new partner’s suspicions about a shaman who claims supernatural forces are at work. Miguel has always tried to avoid relationships out of guilt and fear, but Nikolai sees the darkness in Miguel’s heart—and the fortitude Miguel has hidden deep inside, a strength that will help him solve the case and reclaim his life.
“Urban Shaman” is written completely from Miguel’s POV. Miguel has a strong sense of what is right and wrong, and a lack of tact, which often doesn’t endear him to others. After what happened during his last posting in the army, and shooting the civilian, he’s close to burning out. And then a kid goes missing.
I fell in love with Miguel very quickly. A wounded warrior in all senses of the term, he’s trying so hard to make a difference, regardless of the fact that the press and public hate him. He agrees to work with Rob, even though the man is more like a “sledgehammer” (yes, I’m quoting) and almost always puts witnesses offside, because it seems like the only way he’ll be able to work on the case without press interference. And while they both suspect Nikolai’s a con artist, Miguel is willing to accept the possibility that Nikolai actually cares for the small community he’s adopted.
Ms Gala writes wonderfully complex characters, and the crime investigation is both realistic and riveting. Rob Jackson more than just a side character, he adds to the story, and Nikolai is a wonderfully complicated man whose diverse parts add up to an intriguing whole.
When I finished “Urban Shaman”, all I could think was “WOW!” I was so stunned I actually sat still for a moment to take stock. I’d give this book more than five kisses if I could, although there is a slight possibility I am biased, since I have read and loved “Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts”, “Assimilation, Love, and Other Human Oddities”, “Turrbulence”, “Drift”, and “Long, Lonely Howl”. I must admit, though, that I found The Monsters Below (from the “Making Contact” anthology), and “Desert World: Allegiences” a bit too depressing (The Monsters Below was well-written and more in the vein of classic sci-fi), so maybe not.
I believe any lover of crime or suspense will enjoy this story greatly, regardless of whether they enjoy paranormal or urban fantasy or not. As with most of Ms Gala’s books, this is a story of personal discovery with a gripping plot.
Another great story. Thank you, Ms Gala, and please, please keep on writing.
Reviewed By: Alison
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