Title: Dark and Disorderly
Author: Bernita Harris
Publisher: Carina Press
IBSN 13: 9781426890338
I was standing there naked when my dead husband walked into my bathroom…
Lillie St. Claire is a Talent, one of the rare few who can permanently dispatch the spirits of the dead that walk the earth. Her skills are in demand in a haunted country, where a plague of ghosts is becoming a civic nuisance. Those skills bring her into conflict with frightened citizens who view Talents as near-demons. Her husband has come to see her as a Freak; so when Nathan dies after a car crash, she is relieved to be free of his increasingly vicious presence. Lillie expects to be haunted by Nathan’s ghost, but not to become Suspect #1 for her husband’s murder and reanimation. But what’s most surprising of all is the growing attraction between her and psi-crime detective John Thresher. He thinks that Lillie killed Nathan-and Nathan must agree, because his zombie is seeking revenge. Now she and Thresher must work together to solve her husband’s murder-before his corpse kills her…
As a fan of the Urban Fantasy genre I am always looking for new authors who have a unique interpretation of the supernatural. Harris’s Dark and Disorderly, while grounded in existing myth and lore, has a fresh take on their place in her characters world. The supernatural is leaking into suburbia, increasing in activity and number and not all are benign. Human’s are ambivelent – some want all the supernatural banished, the S.O.S think they should be left alone. In Lillie’s world there is a struggle between acceptance and control of the situation.
As a “Talent”, Lillie has an innate skill to see and disperse ghosts and uses that in the employ of the local council and police force. Talents are mostly treated with suspicion, if not outright hostility and Lillie feels that deeply. This goes a long way to explaining her marriage to Nathan and why she is under suspicion for his death.
I really like Lillie, I think Harris has created a likeable heroine who is a well balanced blend of vulnerability and toughness. Her motivations are mostly genuine rather than contrived and her job and background provides plenty of scope for plot development and world building.
The plot twists are cleverly handled and the various strands work well together. I think Harris has left just the right amount of loose threads to pique interest in a follow up, but also satisfyingly conclude the main plot.
There is a romantic element to this story but it is not the focus. There is a frisson of tension but Thresher is a little one dimensional, mostly I think because of the first person POV, I hope that Harris can develop him more fully next time. He sounds hot though :)
I am impressed with this debut and I will be looking out for any follow up. If you are a fan of this genre, Dark and Disorderly is sure to appeal.