Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective
by Christine Amsden
Cover Artist: Ural Akyuz
Review by Gayle Surrette
Twilight Times Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781606192757
Date: 01 June 2013
Cassie Scot doesn't want much, just a chance to be good at something. She believes she'll be a reasonably good detective working on normal cases. As the only unmagical child in a family of powerful sorcerers, living in a town where sorcerers feel the laws don't apply to them, she didn't work out as a police officer. So her business cards say she's a 'Normal Detective' though she spends most of her time explaining that she doesn't take magic-related cases.
She jumped at the chance to serve a subpoena on Belinda Hewitt, a gifted herbalist and expert potion maker. Belinda was reasonable, and it was just delivering the envelope of papers -- no magic involved. Problem was Belinda wasn't around and, while she waited, Evan Blackwood drove up also looking for his cousin, Nancy Hastings. Together Evan and Cassie discover Nancy's body in Belinda's home.
This is not only a mystery, but also a paranormal romance, as Cassie and Evan ends up assisting each other to find the murderer. Evan is a very advanced sorcerer and Cassie needs him since she has no magical ability. Her family hates the Blackwood family, won't explain why, and insists she have nothing to do with Evan. However Evan was one of her very few friends in school until they got to high school.
In fact, her family is considering disavowing her so that they can have another child which may have magic abilities and thus complete the number that should magically protect the family as a whole. Imagine their surprise when she learns of this plan and packs up and leaves the family home.
It's against this backdrop of personal and family problems that Cassie must find ways to deal with a killer who may be a proficient magical user while no longer having her family members as backup or assistance. She also has to deal with the emotional upset of her younger siblings, who feel she's abandoned them.
Yet she perseveres, using what she knows of the rules of bargaining, favors, and debt to track down the killer and see to it that justice is done. A lot hinges on how Cassie will adapt to her changing situation and to coming to grips with how other people live and afford food, clothing, a roof over their heads, and all the other daily cost of living that she'd never had to deal with -- think high school graduate out in the world for the first time and without parents to pick up the tab.
The world with magic in it, and alongside those who are unaware of its existence, is handled well with a few twists and provisos. The murder mystery and its solution is not that easy to see coming or to solve without some background in the world created for this series, but the details do get explained eventually and readers should be able to figure out who the killer is, although the reason will be surprising -- or mostly surprising depending on how closely you read the sprinkling of clues.
Cassie often seems like a spoiled brat, but then you have to take her in the context of the world in which she lives. Even so, she's striving to see that justice is done regardless of the importance of the person committing the crime.