Redemption Song: Daniel Faust Book 2 by Craig Schaefer
I read a lot of books in series and I haven't been reviewing each book in the series as a rule. I feel like reviewing this one. This one made up my mind about a lot of things.
This isn't a perfect series, but it's a very good one. It has a lot of the qualities I liked about the tv show Leverage -- smart people doing incredibly clever things that are just so much fun to watch. I call it competence porn (with a hat tip to Laura Ann Gilman who gave me the phrase some years ago). It also has some of the qualities of The Dresden Files, that high point in the urban fantasy/paranormal mystery/demons and detectives genre to which almost everything gets compared. The one thing that brought me firmly into Schaefer's team is the moment I had to pause the story because the main character was doing something -- for very good reasons -- that was dumb and was going to turn out badly, and I couldn't quite watch it happen. I did eventually, of course, but right then I just couldn't. I'd signed on with the character that deeply. I didn't want to see him mess up.
But best of all was the reveal at the end, when the plans inside of plans was unfolded, all the hidden bits were made clear, and I got to really enjoy all the cleverness. That just summed up the book beautifully, and made a very satisfying second helping. I'm still not sold on the love relationship between Faust and the succubus Caitlin. It is still a bit hand-wavy "the author said it is so" for my taste (and I married my husband 6 months after meeting him, so I am completely in the love-at-first-sight camp). However, Schaefer is trying to ladle in more reason for the relationship to exist, and I'm willing to just nod and go along with it.
Even more, even though Faust is the point of view character most of the time and it's his show, his 'family' are also in on everything. He couldn't do it solo. He has a group of people who are working with him, and while he does try to protect them, he doesn't undermine their abilities or think they are incompetent, that his world is just to scary and bad for them. Oh no, his family is made up of other folks who are well aware of the magical reality and are skilled and knowledgeable, but who aren't ass deep in alligators nearly as often as Faust is.
It's also interesting that, as much as Faust is a con man, a thief, and occasionally an assassin -- aka a "bad man" with a damned soul, he doesn't come across like that. He's got a lot of good in him. He just doesn't use much of it on the mundane world, and it's hard to fault his reasoning. He's not really an anti-hero or a Robin Hood or any of that. He's honestly what he is -- a con man, a thief, and someone who has, when required, killed a few people. He doesn't want to hurt people in general, and he doesn't spend much of his time hating the world or anything like that. He just has some people who matter more to him while others matter less.
So, I'm now waiting until I can get the next books in this series. My itch is very soothed.