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Trick of the Light: A Trickster Novel (Trixa) by Rob Thurman
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462886
Date: 01 September 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Heaven and Hell have a new battleground: Las Vegas. Hounded by both sides, Trixa Iktomi--bar owner and information broker--is making herself an independent player... which puts her in the crosshairs of both sides.

In Trick of the Light, Rob Thurman expands the world she's building through the Cal and Nik Leandros novels (Nightlife, et al). This time, however, she is upping the stakes considerably.

Both sides of this most-ancient war are seeking the Light of Life, an object said to provide an unbeatable defense for whoever holds it. The angels (represented by the cold Oriphiel) and the demons (represented by the suave Solomon and the more rakish Eligos) are determined to have this prize, no matter who stands in their way.

Unfortunately for them, Trixa has resources of her own, as well as an agenda. First, the goal: she wants to find (and kill) the murderer of her brother Kimano. This is an objective that has shaped Trixa's life over the past several years and now the end-game may be in sight.

Her resources largely consist of her crew, including a mismatched pair of demon-killers named Zeke and Griffin and a bartender named Leo with whom she shares an interesting history. However, her biggest weapon may be the wealth of information she has amassed, which provides her with unexpected insight into the shadowy war raging in Nevada.

Even though Trixa may be more than she appears to be, this is a game that only the very best can hope to survive, much less win. If Trixa wants to last to the final round, she'll need every bit of attitude, nerve and luck--in other words, she'll need to be the very best trickster that ever lived. And that is saying something.

Lastly, not to spoil anything, but this book especially is all about the ending...

Thurman has created an enjoyable extension of her world in Trick of the Light, with a heroine who (like Cal and Nik) has an unconventional family, an anti-authoritarian attitude, and a cheerfully vengeful nature. She directs her considerable ire against those who earn it--including Solomon (whose bar she torches in the book's opening chapter); her only real problem is that she has trouble playing well with others, such as Eden House (an organization that exists to destroy demons). Even though Eden House employs her friends Zeke and Griffin (who are major supporting characters), Trixa doesn't particularly like or trust their leaders, including the enigmatic Mr. Trinity.

The emotional core of the book is family, as Trixa spends much of her time thinking about her lost brother Kimano (the last member of her family) and about how she intends to save/protect Zeke and Griffin in particular. These two are most at risk from the direction the battle against the celestials is going, with some very unexpected challenges laying in wait for all three.

Thurman has an easy-going manner with her dialogue and description, such that Trixa's bar feels solid and real even in such an unreal place as Las Vegas. The outcome of this story opens many new possibilities for this novelist, whose work compares well with Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton. This novel heralds the launch of a strong second series, and readers of urban fantasy will have much to anticipate with Trixa's future adventures.

Recommended.

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