Death's Hand (Descent, #1) by S.M. Reine

Death's Hand  - S.M. Reine

BlurbPolicing relations between Heaven, Hell, and Earth is messy and violent, but Elise Kavanagh and James Faulkner excelled at it-- until coming across a job so brutal that even they couldn't stand to see one more dead body.

Now they've been pretending to be normal for five years, leaving their horrific history a dark secret. Elise works in an office. James owns a business. None of their friends realize they used to be one of the world's best killing teams.

After years of hiding, something stirs. Bodies are vanishing. Demons scurry in the shadows of the night. A child has been possessed.

Some enemies aren't willing to let the secrets of the past stay dead...


My thoughts: A pretty decent introduction to a new-to-me series. Fast paced, and full of action, with a competent female lead, her older male sidekick, and set in a world that's clearly well thought out and seems coherent, although we see only bits and pieces of it in this book. Noticeable lack of info-dumping and "I'm just here for exposition" characters put this well into the very readable category. 


Reminds me of the things I like about Ann Aguirre's Corine Solomon series, and Harry Dresden (the former in the characters and the interactions between them, the latter in the "let's solve the mystery of the week" feel.) No cliffhanger, but clearly a million directions this could go, including a few hinted at: James and Elise have plenty of enemies, at least one of which now knows where they are, there's a demon/angel summit coming to town, and there's plenty of back-story we don't know yet either. The main character is sort of a less bad-ass, less smart-ass version of Kate Daniels (but there's no shape-shifters in sight, at least not yet, and the only romance in sight is sweet and certainly not a central plot point.


It's wryly humorous too, although unlike the three authors I just mentioned, little of the snark comes from the leads, but rather the sidekicks. For instance, the reaction of Elise's neighbour and potential love interest to finding out she's anything but a boring CPA like he thought: 

"We were attacked by some kind of mutant this morning, and then a dead body with bleeding eyes attacks my windshield," he said dully. "My ability to get shocked has eloped with my sanity and run away to Africa."


What I didn't like so much: The first half or so is a little confusing, it starts out when Elise is 5, jumps to present day, then flashes back 5 years. Once I got the hang of the timeline, the use of flashback was less confusing, and everything is clearly headed up with dates, but I kind of glossed those on first glance: "5 years ago, in 2009" would have helped me a bit more than "3 March, 2009". 


Anyway, while it's a good read, and I knocked out this first book in a couple of hours on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, it's not spectacular, or super memorable in an "OMG I have the big love on for these characters" kind of way (they're all likeable enough, but... well, that's all). It's definitely enough to keep me reading though, which is good, because I bought the box set of the first three books, so I have at least 2 more to get through.