So, I originally gave this series a shot because Michelle raved about it, AND it was within my rule of <6$/ebook.
And I liked the first one a lot, but it seemed a little gimmicky, so I wasn't sure I would continue. Except that the second book was cheap. And Stacia Kane popped up on the blogosphere as a bad-ass. I love supporting bad-asses.
And then this book became my imperfect crack, my guilty pleasure.
I have issues with this book, but they're not enough to make me give up on the series (though I'll have to wait for books 4+ to go on sale, because of my moral need to not spend more than 6$/ebook).
Chess is still our main character, our churchwitch. The world is still dark and ugly and gritty. And I admittedly have a huge hard-on for dark and gritty.
She's a fundamentally flawed character, still almost too stereotypically fundamentally flawed, but I'm giving her a pass. She makes really, really
stupid mistakes, but mistakes that make sense, and are a bit painful to people like me who have made epically stupid mistakes.
The world building is good, but not great. There is still a lot of the world to be filled in, a lot to be explained. I like that Kane has not gotten overly finicky and exposition-y about it, but a wee bit more explanation would be great (Yeah, ghost-apocalypse, yeah, Church, but, more please?).
The prose is solid and consistent, I think it's much better than the first book, which shows nice growth on the part of the author. I still like the use of Downside-slang with the characters that speak, while the more privileged and educated characters speak much more "correctly" (at least what we privileged Americans would expect).
I still want meaningful female characters that are not the main character (so far, except for Junkie Chess, we just have bitches, goody-bitches and whores).
Anyway, on to the story. It's another mystery. Another classic detective story, with an A and B plot that you know are somehow going to come together, it's just a matter of time. Chess is still playing the field between two opposing drug lords, and has to work between them to get her B plot to come out.
The actual B (as I refer to the non-officially-sanctioned-by-the-Church plot) plot is actually horrible. And kudos to Kane for making a truly horrific and awful scene involving that one. I mean, really. Ew. And Ugh. Everything wraps up nice and episodic, with just a few trailing ends to keep us going into the next book.
It reminds me a lot of the early Dresden books (only with a whole lot more graphic violence, sex and drug use), where Harry could solve some mystery stuff and go along his merry way, before there were huge overwhelming power-story arcs.
I got much more into this story, it was like watching an epic battle or car accident, only while Chess is an interesting main character, I she's not a good
character, I can't root for her, so I'm watching this battle and I don't know that I want anyone to win. Except Terrible and damn you Kane for leaving that hanging, because now I have to dive straight on into the next book...
you'd better be answering some questions.
High literature with lots of thinky premise? Not really, though if pushed I could tease out some good discussion points. This is popcorn for me. Pure and unadulterated (except for the extra butter) popcorn.