A Flash of Hex
by Jes Battis
Cover Artist: Timothy Lantz
Review by Paul Haggerty
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441017232
Date: 26 May 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Tess Corday is a seasoned Occult Special Investigator for the Central Occult Regulations Enterprise (CORE). She's seen more horrific things than any person should have; more than most people can imagine. But even her nerves are tested when she's called to the scene of a young man who has been ritually executed and bled dry. Even worse than the crime is the knowledge that he's not the first. There's a serial killer loose in Vancouver, targeting the children of world-class mages; a killer with inhuman powers and a reason for acting that's far beyond being a simple psychopath. It's smart, inventive, thorough, beyond evil, and somehow connected with Tess's past. That's not something Tess is going to let happen in her city. A Flash of Hex is the second OSI novel by Jes Battis. The first, Night Child introduced us to Tess, her partner, Derrick Siegel, and a host of strangeness that is her mystical world. CORE does its best to keep the mundane world ignorant of and safe from the vampires, demons, sorcerers, and what have you that dwell amongst us, yet fortunately prefer to remain hidden whenever possible. Although with all the power struggles going on all over the place, it's hard to see how people can fail to see it. I guess we have to chalk it up to humanity's the most powerful drive: I didn't see it, it's not real, what's for dinner!
Unfortunately, Tess and the rest of CORE don't have the luxury of ignoring what they don't like. There are bodies piling up, and very powerful families wanting answers, and willing to throw their considerable financial and political weight around to get their way. Further complicating the issue are the forms of magic being used, the combinations of which are hard to explain. If she's going to figure it all out, she's going to need the help of Lucian Agrado, a necromancer, but still a kind of a nice guy ... in a way. Tess's emotions are conflicted when it comes to Lucian, but CORE's are not. She's been ordered in no uncertain terms to stay away from him. And it's not like her record with CORE is completely spotless. She doesn't have a lot of credit built up in the "look the other way while I break the rules" department.
So with vampires on one side, demons on another, necromancers causing her heart to race, a new and deadly magical drug making the rounds of the disaffected and deserted, and the people who are suppose to be her colleagues ready to turn on her if she strays from the letter of the law, this investigation is going to be just a little slice of hell on earth. And if all the truths about the past are revealed, the investigation may end up being the least of her worries.