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Cop and conjurer of demons, she's a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill.... Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.
Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head...
Mark of the Demon isn’t your average urban fantasy novel; instead it is a brilliant mix of police procedural and urban fantasy all rolled into one. The story itself is dark, focusing on a serial killer by the name of the Symbol Man. After years of being dormant, he returns to the lime light leaving a gruesome trail of bodies in his wake. Kara Gillian, a freshly promoted homicide detective, is given the lead on the case, but her investigative powers aren’t the only asset she’s bringing to the table. She’s also a summoner, a caller of demons that can sense the arcane which permeates the victims. Unable to tell the other detectives about what she knows she is happy to discover when an FBI agent who is assigned to assist her in the case can also see the minute traces left on the bodies. Between the two of them they find that the real motivation behind the killings is more horrific and insane then they could have imagined.
As if dealing with a lunatic serial killer isn’t enough, Kara also has her own demonic problems, in the form of Rhyzkahl, a Demon Lord. Unlike lesser demons, Lords do not like being summoned into our sphere. As an honor bound species they feel that is the highest insult to their class and often kill the one guilty of such an offense. When a summoning of a lesser demon goes awry Kara comes face to face with her greatest nightmare, a very angry Demonic Lord. Only narrowly does she escape his wrath, but being the beautiful creature he is, she can’t deny his pleasure. With a lingering offer to call him to her again, she is baffled and mollified by her stupidity and is only more stricken when Rhyzkahl begins showing up in her dreams luring her to call him, an act that would leave him unbound and free to terrorize and enslave our world.
But, only as she begins to slowly piece together the mystery of whom the Symbol Man is and the horrible purpose to his murders does she begin to see how connected she really is, both by her past and by the Demon Lord that haunts her.
The twining plots in this story really keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the very end. It’s a well planned mystery that has a fast pace interspersed with romance and action. The worlds are well built, dismissing the Hollywood world of CSI and showing the sad and slow truth about homicide detectives and how crimes are solved. The arcane aspect of the plot is also made more real by the attention to small details, giving the reader information to help the world come to life. Briefly you are introduced to the demon hierarchy and the customs between summoner and demon, as well as the art of summoning the demons.
In addition to the world being well built, the characters themselves are highly developed. Kara is a feisty detective, ambitious and hard working with a quick wit. But, she is also able to acknowledge and accept any flaws or short comings within her character which makes her seem more vulnerable. But, adding to her mettle, Diana Rowland also demonstrates her ability to let a character grow. FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff begins the story as an icy and standoffish personality. I had a hard time coming to like him until he began to thaw towards Kara and we find that he is much the same as her. Hiding his ability to use Othersight, a way of seeing the arcane, he also is cut off from the ‘normal’ world. In the end, he is a very interesting character and the blossoming relationship between the two is tentative and more likable for it.
And as with any great story, the conclusion of this mystery leaves you craving more-to understand the undiscovered talents of the characters and to continue to see how the relationship between Kara and Ryan evolves as well as how her relationship between the Demon Lord Rhyzkahl will change.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars
Advisory: This book contains some sexual situations