Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Joanne Walker -- mechanic, cop, and unwitting urban shaman -- is the latest ghoul-butt kicking heroine in the supernatural-thriller genre.
She also heralds C.E. (Catie) Murphy as a potential new star to watch in the footsteps of Anita Blake, Tanya Huff and Jim Butcher.
Urban Shaman begins with Murphy writing at her delightful best. She introduces Walker as a smart and funny woman cop from Seattle with a wry outlook on life, yet with enough endearing quirks to break out of that same predictable archetypical mould. Her quirky observations and unforced style mark Walker an endearing character and Murphy a stylish writer of great promise.
We are hurled into the story immediately as Walker pursues, and is pursued by, the Wild Hunt ghostly horsemen led by an ancient demi-god on a bloody mission of mayhem to ultimately destroy the world.
Equally endearing supporting characters are introduced - your gruffly good natured taxi driver, your drop-dead gorgeous ghoul-bait blonde, your cross-dressing detective etc - not to mention the antagonist, the Horned God, Cernunnos. Or should that be horny? Our heroine seems to get the vapors over everyone except, perhaps, her cross-dressing pal.
Being a mechanic, our heroine tends to use a lot of vehicle analogies, so maybe itís fitting to say that the story starts well, picks up speed, then sadly the wheels fall off. After such a promising and enjoyable start, the tale never really kicks into gear as our heroine literally stumbles from event to event, and she is tutored in her sharmanic skills by an ethereal wolf while she is unconscious from the aforementioned stumbling. Yes, tragic.
There are more grizzly murders, however these are being committed by another mysterious antagonist and not the Wild Hunt which is strangely absent, evidently off somewhere searching for the plot.
Itís a shame Murphy wastes such an enjoyable beginning, fine narrative style and likeable characters by failing to grasp the necessity of cause and effect and relying instead on deus ex machina. Tension disappears when we realize Walker can magically heal herself and her friends from the most gruesome wounds and saving the world becomes obscurely inevitable.
And itís also inevitable that the main antagonist, Cernunnos (the horny one), inevitably escapes no doubt to re-appear for the inevitable next book in the inevitable trilogy.
Letís hope C.E. Murphy learns to control her heroineís hormones, and her plot, to realize her considerable potential.
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