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The Cold Kiss of Death: Spellcrackers Book 2 by Suzanne McLeod
Review by Liz de Jager
Gollancz Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780575084254
Date: 16 July 2009 List Price 18.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

In a market dominated by American writers, Britain's Suzanne McLeod is comprehensively holding her own with her series published by Gollancz. Her second novel The Cold Kiss of Death has just been published in trade paperback, and reviewed this month by Liz de Jager.

"All Genny wants is to live the quiet life and to do her job at, but there's her tangled personal life to sort out first. She's being haunted by ghosts who want her help. Her witch neighbours want her evicted. Genny's sort-of-Ex - and now her new boss - can't decide whether he wants their relationship to be business or pleasure. And then there's the queue of vampires all wanting her to paint the town red - how long will it be before they stop taking no for an answer? But when one of her human friends is murdered by sidhe magic, Genny is determined to find the killer. She needs help to find the real murderer, and that means calling on some of the most capricious and seductive fae - but her search is hindered by the vampires, who have their own political agenda. All the evidence points to Genny - she's the only sidhe fae in London - and she's named the main suspect; it's not long before she's on the run, not just from the police, but from some of London's most powerful supernaturals."

The Cold Kiss of Death is Suzanne McLeod's second outing in her series. We once again meet up with Genny Taylor (the protagonist from the first novel The Sweet Scent of Blood) as she's trying to put on a "everything's fine here" face and get on with her life. Genny is a fae sidhe living in London and working for the fantastically named Spellcrackers a company that specialises in looking into people having magical problems and sorting it out.

The Cold Kiss of Death picks up shortly after the ending of SCOB and the author spends very little time rehashing what had gone before, so it makes it necessary to have read the first novel to get up to speed with Genny's life, all in order to appreciate the precarious position she is in as the new novel opens. As Genny works for Spellcrackers, she is protected by The Witches Council (who controls all magical business) but things are not looking good as Genny's been outed as a 3V infected (a person addicted to vampire venom) and needless to say the witches aren't impressed. Should they withdraw their protection from Genny, i.e. she may lose her job but it would also mean that there would be a free for all in the vampire community to track her down and tap her dry as the sidhe are renowned for the power in their magical blood!

The biggest problem comes when Genny is framed for murder and she literally has to run around a fantastically magic and re-imagined London, tying up the strands of her rapidly fraying life whilst fighting off a variety of supernatural creatures baying for her to be made an example of by the authorities - both in the human and supernatural world.

A tremendous amount happens in The Cold Kiss of Death and it does the reader well to pay attention. The writing is fast, the plot pitched at a perfect (sometimes breathless) pace and before you know it, you are closing the covers and sitting back with a contented sigh at the conclusion.

The author has shown tremendous grit in her second novel and she's proved that she's going to be a strong presence in the urban fantasy genre. There is very little hesitancy in her characterisation and storytelling prowess. Her writing in The Sweet Scent of Blood was very competent as a début author and it is gratifying to see her progress as a writer from very competent to bloody good in The Cold Kiss of Death.

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