Monday, March 19, 2012

By a Thread by Jennifer Estep

Here's another adventure with the infamous assassin, The Spider, aka Gin Blanco. Gin really needs a vacation. After killing Mab Monroe, word has gotten out about her secret identity, and she has had to work twice as hard at The Pork Pit, grilling barbecue and killing all the thugs who want to enhance their reputation by taking down The Spider. Fletcher finally convinces her to take some time off, so she and her baby sister, detective Bria Coolidge, head south to the coast for some fun in the sun; Owen and Fletcher will join them later.

Bria grew up and first became a detective in the small resort town of Blue Marsh, on the Georgia-South Carolina border, and her best friend, Callie Reyes, who owns a restaurant there, is engaged to be married. Gin and Bria have a quiet first day in town, shopping and playing tourist (which doesn't come naturally to Gin), but when they visit Callie's restaurant, things begin to...go south in a hurry?

An evil real estate developer, who is also a very old vampire, wants Callie's property to build an all-inclusive resort, and he won't take "No" for an answer. He sends a pair of bruisers to intimidate her, but the two clowns are no match for Gin. She leaves them unconscious but still alive, and offers to keep the vampire, Dekes, from bothering her sister's friend any more. Callie turns her down, as she thinks she can handle things herself, with the help of her fiancee, a local cop who turns out to be...wait for it..Donovan...Gin's ex-lover.

But when the two enforcers show up in the middle of the night with a couple of their buddies at the hotel to rape and murder Gin and Bria, The Spider decides to take care of things on her own, whether she's been invited or not. Owen and Fletcher show up the next day, and the fearsome foursome from Ashland get to work on a plan. It's a pitiful plan, getting themselves invited to a press conference Dekes is holding to announce his new project, and we've seen the same scenario before in the Elemental Assassin story. If you take a look at the page number when Gin goes after Dekes, you know it really can't be over this fast, so there must be some facts not in evidence.

Gin gets her butt kicked badly by Dekes, once again having to use her frost elemental magic to escape his clutches. Nearly dead, she stumbles back to the rental house she shares with Bria, Owen and Finnegan. Amazingly, the dynamic dwarf sisters have arrived in the nick o' time, so someone is there to heal Gin from her misadventure.

You might have gathered from the preceding bit of snark that I'm a little disillusioned by this story. There was nothing really new, exciting, bold, or innovative in this story; we've seen it all before from Gin Blanco and Company. The only thing that moves the plot arc forward is that she's finally able to reconcile her emotions about Donovan, she and Bria come to a better understanding,  and she faces the reality that she may be destined to become a crusader for the downtrodden, and not an amoral assassin, after all.

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