"Blue Diablo", is an Urban Fantasy written in the first person and what I liked about the heroine and narrator of the story, "Corine Solomon", is that she is real. Corine doesn't see herself as beautiful; in fact she talks about her imperfections, and dressing "hippie chic". She possesses a dry wit that permeates the narrative of this novel and had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. Corine isn't a gun toting, martial arts expert; her mother gifted her with a unique, rare ability that while provided her a source of income for a time also causes her heartache and nearly cost her life. She is a "handler", which means she has a psychic or magical (whichever you believe it to be) ability to touch an object and visualize what the owner was doing at the time they last handled it. And, her gift gets her into a truckload of trouble.
After leaving her lover and manager, Chance 18 months earlier, Corine Solomon has made a life for herself in Mexico City. She opened a little pawnshop and sells goods of all description, making a decent profit. She has been comfortable and made very sure she covered her tracks when she walked out on Chance and her previous life.
However, we would have no story without a hitch right?
Chance turns up at her shop to plead for help in locating his mother Yi-Min-Chin who has gone missing and considered kidnapped. Chance presents Corine with a little pewter Buddha that his mother considered her "luck" and begs her to handle it so they can glean some information with respect to Min's whereabouts.
Corine and Chance's relationship history is extremely tumultuous and needless to say, it goes against her better judgment to become involved with him again. She is about to send him packing, however when she sees the pewter Buddha, she knows something horrible has happened to Min, because she was never without it. Min is a woman who Corine had grown to care for. When Corine "handles" the Buddha, she senses Min's feelings, her fear and resignation at being taken, and she sees a white van she is escorted to. Corine's gift does come with a physically painful price that you will understand if you read the book.
Chance is gifted with luck. Essentially, wherever he goes things seem to go in his favor, no matter how bad the situation, nothing happens to him. However, his power doesn't extend to protecting those around him and because of this Corine was very nearly killed during their last "job" together.
Corine agrees to go to Laredo with Chance where his mother was last seen and Detective Jesse Saldana, from the "Crimes Against Persons Unit" or CAPERS is working on Yi-Min-Chin's disappearance. Chance knows the police have his mother's purse because it was found in the blood-spattered corner of an abandoned warehouse. Chance wants the purse so Corine can handle it.
Saldana, it turns out, is an empath and he and Corine feel and instant connection because of their gifts.
Here is a short example of the wonderful prose and Corine's (Ann Aguirre's) inherent wit. Chance and Corine arrive at the police station in Laredo and she is introduced to Jesse Saldana for the first time:
"My hormones gave a little skip as I gave him the once-over: an intriguing mix of long, tall Texan in battered boots, touched with Latin heat. He had legs that stretched forever in jeans faded almost to white, not the kind bought with designer "wear" but Levi's washed till the seams and creases got thin. He'd clipped his badge to his belt in plain sight.
As I checked out the rest of him, I admired shoulders showcased by a rumpled white shirt and a forest green blazer. He had a striped tie stuffed in his right jacket pocket, probably to satisfy the letter of the dress code. Nice face, I decided, if scruffy and unshaven. Frosting the hunk cake was a tousled mess of tawny, sun streaked hair."
Can I say, yum?
The stage is set for readers to be taken on a thrill ride where Corine and Chance battle a warlock, demons, spirits, zombies and a crime syndicate. The setting, steeped with Spanish influence is perfect for majic and the occult rituals. The first person narrative allows us to see, feel and hear the events that take place through Corine who is frightened half to death most of the time, but somehow prevails despite enduring one harrowing experience after another.
Then there is her frustration with her ex lover and I understood her cynicism given their history and Chance's occasional indifference. There is no sex in this book; however the story is steamy because it is rife with sexual tension and temptation, which Corine struggles to resist in the extreme. I was grinding my teeth wondering whether she might give in to Chance who wants her but has significant relationship issues and communication problems. And, there is Jesse who considers himself a mentor to Corine because of her gift, but a burgeoning attraction flames between them.
Ann Aguirre developed a strong cast of supporting characters who are drawn into a plot that is full of intrigue, and twists and turns.
It is not clear until the closing pages of the book whether Corine and Chance will succeed in their efforts to rescue Min.
I am looking forward to the next chapter of Corine Solomon's story.
Oh and by the way, the title of this book? You will never guess what it is derived from.