Review (w/Giveaway!): The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

The Taken is the first book in a new series, Celestial Blues, from Vicki Pettersson, author of the Signs of the Zodiac series. It was released from Harper Voyager on July 4, 2012.

Because I love you, I went to see Vicki when she was in town back in July. She gave me several 4×6″ promo cards featuring the cover art of The Taken, and she was kind enough to sign them for me. I have three of them that I’ll mail anywhere in the USA. To enter, check out the form at the bottom of this review. 

The Blurb

Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul–Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.

Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder–and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . . [Goodreads]

The Review

This book has a much bigger streak of romance in it than the Zodiac books did. It also has no superheroes, just to warn you. What it does have is an angel bad-boy, a modern-day rockabilly heroine, and a serious murder-mystery (or rather: two murder-mysteries) to solve.

If you’re expecting Pettersson’s writing to get lighter with this new series, then you are seriously mistaken. This author has a (much deserved) reputation for being absolutely vicious to her characters, and while this opening doesn’t quite have the brutal gut-punch that The Scent of Shadows did, it still isn’t a quaint walk in the park. In fact, this book should probably carry a trigger warning for rape/sexual assault.

The main relationship is a little abrupt, but the mystery and danger is gritty and real. You can’t really compare Kit with Joanna (the protagonist from Zodiac), because they’re so totally different, but I admit to not falling in love with Kit in the same way. Joanna was dark, tough, and strong. Kit is strong, too, but also sunshine-y cheerful, stubborn, and… Well. I don’t know if she’s too stupid to live, but she doesn’t seem to be the smartest person in the world. For a journalist, this proves a weakness that can (and does) put her into danger.

On second thought, it’s not that Kit’s stupid. She seems quite intelligent, actually. It’s just that she’s way too trusting. She married a jerk that didn’t appreciate her. Then she lets her best friend walk into the seedy hotel room where she’s murdered. As if that weren’t enough, she doesn’t run screaming when she finds Griff, claiming to be an angel, in her house.

Yep, I would be totally credulous if I found a strange man in my bedroom at night who then advised me he was a supernatural being after a short conversation. Sure, he saved her life — but that would only get you so far with me. (I’d probably just call the cops rather than getting out the frying pan and beating him to within an inch of his life, for instance.)

If you don’t take this too seriously, you should do just fine. There’s an odd contrast between the campy-ness of Kit’s rockabilly lifestyle and her interactions with Griff against the deadly serious conspiracy of the ending. I find that contrast intriguing rather than off-putting, but some readers may not be so forgiving.

All in all, this story is like that kind of chocolate you can get with the hot pepper in it. (Here’s an example.) It’s a sweet romance tale, with the bite of murder and conspiracy. It’s a gritty noir murder-mystery with some great witty dialogue. This story is trying to be a lot of different things, and while it doesn’t quite succeed in being everything for everyone, it’s a compelling start to a story that I plan on being in line for through the end.

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[FTC Disclosure: While I purchased my own copy of this book to review, I did receive the promo items I am giving away from the author at no cost to me.] : {Post edited to refer to the correct government agency.}

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4 thoughts on “Review (w/Giveaway!): The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

  • August 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm
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    There are times when I almost hate to come read your book reviews because it makes me want to go read MOAR BOOKS! When I don’t even have the time to put a dent in my current TBR list!

    ;o)

    • August 13, 2012 at 4:38 pm
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      THESE ARE THE BOOKS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR. Read them, I say. Love them, you will. < /jedi>

  • August 18, 2012 at 8:36 pm
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    what an awesome giveaway! thank you!

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