Mortal Sins Mass Market Paperback – Feb 3 2009
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About the Author
Eileen Wilks is a national bestselling author and a three-time RITA Award finalist, and has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
But it was the musk, blood, and fur scent of raccoon he chased.
A three-quarter moon hung high overhead as he leaped the stream, muscles reaching in exhilarated approximation of flight. He landed almost on top of the prey — but his hind feet skidded in slick red clay. A second later, the raccoon shot up a tree.
He shook his head. Damned raccoons always climbed if they got a chance. He didn't begrudge the animal its escape, but wished he'd had more of a chase first.
Deer do not climb trees. He decided to course for that scent.
Coursing was as much excuse as action. He'd eaten well before Changing, so hunger was distant; the real delight was simply being in motion, reading the world through nose, ears, the pads of his feet.
The human part of him remained, a familiar slice of "I" that was not-wolf. He remembered his two-legged thoughts and experiences; they simply ceased to matter as much. Not when air slid through him like hot silk, pregnant with a thousand flavors. It was probably the human part that felt a pang for the wonders of these southern woods, remembering the hotter, drier land claimed by his clan in southern California. His grandfather had made the decision to buy land there for Nokolai's Clanhome. In that place and time, the land had been cheap.
It had been a sound decision. The clan had prospered in California. But at Nokolai Clanhome, wolves ran on rocks scattered over hard-baked ground, not on a thick bed of needles and moss through tree-shadows surprised here and there by the tumble of a stream.
Rule had run as wolf in many places, yet there was something special about this night, these woods. Something new. He'd never run here as wolf before. Not with Leidolf's clanhome so near.
The spike of worry was real, but fleeting. Wolves understand fear. Worry is too mental, too predicated on the future, to hold their attention. The slice of him that remained man wanted to hold onto that worry, gnawing it like a bone that refused to crack. The wolf was more interested in the day-old spoor of an opossum.
This was why he ran tonight: too many worries, too much gnawing at problems that refused to crack open and release their marrow. He'd learned the hard way that the man needed the wolf at least as much as the wolf needed the man. These woods were sweet. He'd find no answers in them, but tonight he wasn't seeking answers.
Lily said they hadn't come up with the right questions yet.
Rule paused, head lifted. Thought of her was sweet to both man and wolf. If only she could . . . .
He twitched his ear as if a fly had bitten it. Foolishness. Both his natures agreed on that. Things were as they were, not as he might wish them to be. Females did not Change.
An hour later he'd found no deer, though he'd crossed their trails often enough, along with many others — a pack of feral dogs, a copperhead, another raccoon. Perhaps he'd been more interested in the distractions than the hunt, when there were no clanmates to join the chase. He wished Benedict was here, or Sammy, or Cullen...wished, though he tried not to, for Lily. Who could never share this with him.
His son would. Not yet, but in a few years. His son, who slept in a nearby town tonight — a town that would not be Toby's home much longer. In four days they would meet with the judge for the custody hearing, and as long as Toby's grandmother didn't change her mind...
She wouldn't. She couldn't.
Feelings thundered through him, a primal cacophony of bliss, fear, jubilation. Rule lifted his nose to the moon and joined in Her song. Then he flicked his tail and took off at a lope, tongue lolling in the heat.
At the base of a low hill he found another scent. The chemical message was old but unmistakable. At some point in the last few months, a Leidolf wolf had marked the spot with urine. Something more visceral than recognition stirred as the portion of new mantle he carried rose, knowing the scent. Welcoming it.
Briefly, he was confused. Always before that scent had meant Enemy. But the message of the power curled within him was clear: this wolf was his.
The man understood this change, had expected it, and memory supplied the reasons, so the wolf acknowledged the change and moved on. He wound up the little hill, bathed in the aural ocean of cricket song, anticipating grass. His nose informed him of a grassy place nearby, a spot where some alteration in soil had discouraged trees.
He liked grass. Perhaps it would be tall and home to mice. Mice were small and tricky, but they crunched nicely.
A thought sifted through him, arising from both ways of being: a few months ago he wouldn't have noticed a scent-trace as old as that left by the Leidolf wolf. Had the new mantle coiled in his belly made it possible to sort that scent? Or was it because there were two mantles now? Perhaps this night, these woods were unusually magic because he carried more magic within him.
He would consider that in his other form, which was better suited to thinking. For now . . . at the crest of the hill he checked with the moon, aware of time passing and a woman who waited in the small town nearby...asleep? Probably. He'd told her he would be gone most of the night.
Part of him thought this was a poor way to spend the night when he could have been in her bed, but there was grass ahead, the chance of a mouse or three. He was here, not there, and it was impossible to regret the night.
It was growing late, though. The fireflies had turned off their glow-sticks and the moon was descending. He would investigate the tall grass, he decided. Then he'd return to the place he'd left his clothing and to the shape that fit those clothes.
The grass was indeed tall and the pungent smell of mice greeted him as he approached the tiny meadow. Rabbits, too, but rabbits were for days, since they seldom venture out of their burrows in the dark.
A breeze rose, whispering in the grass and carrying a host of smells. He paused, curious, and tested the air.
Was that...? Corruption, yes, the stench of rot was unmistakable, though faint and distant. It meant little. Animals died in the woods. Besides, the smell came from the general direction of the highway. Animals were hit by cars even more often than they died naturally. But was it an animal?
The mantles might help him find out.
They slept now. He wouldn't call them up, not even just the one he considered truly his — that portion of the Nokolai mantle his father had given him years ago. To call one meant both answered, and he d been warned. Drawing strongly on the portion he held of the other clan's mantle could kill the mantle's true holder, who clung so narrowly to life.
Not that Rule objected to Victor Frey's death. In other circumstances he'd celebrate it, but he didn't want the clan that would come to him with Victor's dying. And neither he nor Nokolai needed the ruckus that would follow.
Could he use the mantles without actually calling them up?
The wolf thought so. The man, troubled by instinct or too much thinking, wanting to try.
With a wisp of attention, Rule woke the twin powers in his gut. He focused again on the trace of scent carried by the breeze, not so much using the mantles as including them in his intention.
That scent sharpened in his nostrils immediately. Not a dog hit by a car, no. Nor a deer brought down by disease. Though the rot-stench overpowered the rest, he was almost sure the body he smelled had never walked four-footed.
Go. The breeze might die, or this new acuity fade. Go. Find out.
He launched himself into a run.
Wolves are largely indifferent to death as long as it doesn't threaten them or theirs. The body he chased was certainly dead, so the wolf felt no urgency. But the man did. Rule ran for over a mile — not full-out, not over unfamiliar terrain with no immediate danger or prey. But he was fast in this form, faster than a born-wolf.
By the time he slowed, he knew he'd been right about the highway. He heard cars cruising perhaps half a mile ahead...not many. It wasn't a major highway.
But what he sought lay within the woods. The rankness made his lip curl back from his teeth as he approached. Some other scent hid beneath the stench, but even with the mantles' help he couldn't sort it clearly, smothered as it was by putrefaction. Whatever it was, it brought up his hackles and started a growl in his throat.
Unlike some predators, wolves don't sideline as scavengers; only one on the brink of starvation would consider eating meat this rotten. And Rule was too much man even now to feel anything but a sad sort of horror at what lay in a shallow ditch between a pair of oaks.
Not all beasts are so picky, however. And he hadn't been the first to find them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
FBI agent Lily and her werewolf mate Rule are in a local town trying to deal w/ the custody rights of his son w/o the media catching a whiff of the news. Inadvertantly, on this personal trip Lily gets involved in serial murder case in the area. Being the "touch sensitive" that she is, she knows that the murders are magical related and therefore part of the FBI MCD jurisdiction.
I actually enjoyed the plot of this book very much. The other books were more fantasy/paranormal types. However, this story despite the paranormal aspects of it had a good police murder mystery plot.
The only thing I would have liked more would be for more initimate scenes. However, the plot was very good and found myself reading it in one sitting.
I would highly recommend this book, but only to those who have read the previous books otherwise the characters and the background history would be too confusing.
Since Agent Lily is already at the crime scene, she is put in charge of the official investigation. Another "death magic" homicide occurs; leading Lily to believe that something new at least to her is the serial killer. Werewolf sorcerer Cullen tells Lily someone has created a deadly wraith, but offers no clues how ends the reign of terror.
The latest Agent Yu "Mortal" urban fantasy police procedural is refreshed by the family element and by a unique serial killer who the FBI operative, her werewolf significant other and the sorcerer have no earthly idea how to defeat it. Thus solving the whodunit turns out relatively easy while solving how to prevent further deaths proves seemingly impossible. Eileen Wilks provides a strong entry in her Yu thrillers (see MORTAL DANGER).
When bodies are found and death magic is apparent (a federal crime), Lily is pressed into service to discover what is going on in the North Carolina woods. Nothing is adding up and suspects are becoming victims as the investigation goes on. If that wasn't enough to confuse things, the mother of Rule's son has appeared and she has an agenda of her own. Lily and Rule have to use every one of their advantages and bring in friends to solve the crime and keep the entire family safe and together forever.
Mortal Sins adds yet another chapter in Lily and Rule's lives. This time they have to track down an illusive murderer while dealing with unexpected issues concerning the custody hearing for Rule's son. I love the twisty turns that happen when Lily and Rule have to combine both their responsibilities and try to stay within their respective rules. Lily and Rule become more and more in love as the book unfolds and the danger come up close and personal. There were several places where I was wondering what would happen next and I have to admit that I could not figure out who was the real criminal was or how close it would come to Rule and Lily. I was very happy and shocked by the ending and can't wait for the next chapter in Rule and Lily's lives. Mortal Sins is a great paranormal suspense filled book that will keep you scratching you head. While it could be read alone, I would probably suggest reading the series in order as each book is building the lives of Lily, Rule and their friends and family.
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
Unfortunately for Lily, deserving something doesn't necessarily mean getting it.
Tucked up in bed on the night they arrived, she gets jerked out of sleep by a phone call from Rule. While on a run in nearby woods the lupi prince caught scent of the mangled and decomposing bodies of a mother and her two children. The scene was ugly, the grave shallow and bodies disturbed by dogs. What most troubled Rule, though, was that under the scent of natural decay is the more insidious and corrupt bouquet of death magic.
Before she could even unpack, personal time was a distant memory, replaced by the case of a magically perpetrated and heinous murder. And just to add the cherry to that disturbing sundae, it's the sort of crime that - according to all magical knowledge - shouldn't have even been possible. How do you catch a killer who shouldn't exist before he does more vicious and deadly things he shouldn't be able to do?
Perhaps not one of the more flashy urban fantasy series, Wilks' World of the Lupi series distinguishes itself with extraordinary world building and a unique cast of believable, likable characters. In this fifth book, the focus is back on main characters Lily and Rule, and as is the standard for the series, a pleasant balance between otherworldly danger and day-to-day trials and tribulations.
Mortal Sins hearkens back to the first book in the series, with its magical crime and the search for the perpetrator featuring aspects of an accomplished police procedural blended with the supernatural. Lily isn't the ubiquitous kick ass urban fantasy heroine, leather clad and carrying a big sword. She's slight of frame, of Asian descent, and while she's as tenacious as a terrier when set loose on a case, she's also the quintessential FBI agent. Despite her Gift as a touch sensitive, she's about as normal a character as I've seen in the genre, with such superb backstory and development that she's utterly believable and real.
Then again, Wilks has a true gift with characters, be they main, secondary, or ancillary. They are all rather remarkably three dimensional, with a depth and substance that is distressingly rare in so very many books and series once you step beyond main characters.
As top dog, no pun intended, Rule's backstory, the mythos surrounding his heritage, issues with his son, and the clans he serves all blend together to define a remarkable man of honor and integrity. A man who stands as testament to tradition even as he stands strong on the side of sweeping change. I love the dichotomy and the stability in him as a character.
I also love how the dominant Rule respects and treats Lily and the bond between them. There aren't a whole lot of series in the genre that feature and highlight the evolution of a genuine relationship between the male and female lead. I wish there were more, because I thoroughly enjoy exploring the lives of couples after the Happily Ever Afters.
Rule and Lily have been together since the first book, thanks to a bond from the Goddess that Rule's people worship. That bond has caused as many problems as its solved...maybe more, actually...and it's been quite the journey seeing their relationship evolve into what seems in this book to be a solid foundation with a few minor issues. And it was truly a delight to have some of those issues that have been nagging me from the first book get truly and spectacularly addressed in this one.
I wasn't totally invested in the main conflict of the killer plotline in this book. It seemed a little ragged and insubstantial compared to conflicts and bad guys we've seen in previous books. I also felt keenly the absence of many of the secondary characters I've grown fond of since the series started, and felt a little overwhelmed by the number of new names and faces involved in the race to find and stop the killer.
On the flip side, I loved the attention given to Rule's battle for his son, and thought the scenes surrounding Toby were some of my favorites in the book. He's such a little man; more mature than most nine-year-olds, maybe, but still so precocious and charming. This was a thread that felt like a long time coming and I was glad it finally got to get some page time.
While Mortal Sins isn't my favorite in the series so far, it struck me as a very solid addition full of the sort of quality storytelling that sets apart this underrated series. It had the feel of a transitional book in places, actually, with some significant issues being tidied up and some new dangers and complications left dangling like tasty little morsels teasing the hungry palate. Given the scope of those teasers, Wilks has much more up her sleeves to entertain loyal readers. I don't intend to miss it.
Interested readers should start at the beginning, though, because this is definitely a cumulative series, with characters evolving and story expanding and building up from a single starting point in the first book. There is exposition provided, of course, but too much has happened to too many people for that to be sufficient to readers unfamiliar with the world.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.