Series Title: Down and Dirty Supernatural Cleaning Services (to date, composed of Grave New World, Grime and Punishment, and A Farewell to Charms)
Publisher: Little Fish Publishing
Authors: Kate Karyus Quinn, Demetria Lunetta, and Marley Lynn
Pages: 200pp+ each
Price: $11.99 (paperback) / $2.99-$4.99 (ebook)
Welcome to a world that might be. Supernatural creatures have come out of hiding, magic is back, technology is wonky, and humanity is no longer at the top of the food chain. Not even half way up the food chain. Definitely down towards the bottom. This is the brave new world that Paige Harper has to navigate every day, with only her pistol, her foul mouth, and her gung-ho attitude. Well, okay, she also has a sentient van named Vanna. And a semi-sentient venus flytrap named Vee. And her beauty-addicted half-fae/half-vampire ex-sister-in-law. And her fae ex-husband. And his witchy new girlfriend. And her cross-dressing roommate. Oh, and the sexy one-eyed werewolf private investigator who works next door. Which is a good thing, because Paige is about to find herself in way over her head, dealing with the supernatural mob, human-first fanatics, an inter-species sex cult, and a vampire serial killer …. Good thing she has all that bleach in the back of Vanna ….
Sometimes, the algorithms work. The first book in Down and Dirty Supernatural Cleaning Services popped up on a recommended reading list on Amazon. I downloaded the sample, read it, and immediately purchased the book. Then I pre-ordered the second and third books as soon as they became available.
This series has a little bit of everything, and somehow it all goes together. It’s a near-future paranormal murder mystery/romantic suspense with side commentary on political corruption, ethnic oppression, drug addiction, LGBTQIA+ rights, and sexual autonomy. It’s one of those fluffy, silly series that is actually saying some pretty serious stuff.
For example: Paige. A Jersey girl through and through, she looks like a ’50s pin up model, but has the mind of a savvy businesswoman and the mouth of a sailor. And she loves sex. A lot. Not with just anyone, mind you; she is very particular as to her sexual partners (which is why she’s been fighting her attraction for a certain one-eyed werewolf), but when she gets down and dirty, she gives it her all. She’s also evolving in her attitude towards supernaturals; after being burned by her ex-husband, she falls pretty solidly into the “anti” camp. But her business, and eventually her personal life, repeatedly bring her into contact with fae, vampires, shapeshifters, witches, and assorted other beings, and she begins to see them as people; they may be more powerful than her, but everyone is dealing with the same sh*t.
Paige’s evolutionary arc allows readers to delve deeper and deeper into the hidden world of Down and Dirty as the series progresses. In the beginning, Paige is on the outside, the hired help who cleans up the messes left by the new elite. But when her ex-husband is framed for murder (after putting her house up as collateral in a poker game), she goes looking for the real killer. In doing so, she uncovers a terrifying political conspiracy, discovers just how morally corrupt the humans-first fanatics truly are, and is forced to interact with kidnappers, supernatural traffickers, and drug runners. Paige discovers that the world is much, much messier than she had ever realized, and that she can’t clean up all of it — but she can do her part to keep her little bit of the world as ethically clean as possible.
I have only two complaints about the series. The first is the lack of editing. There are a number of distracting typographical and grammatical errors in every single book. A solid copy edit would have caught all of these before publication.
The second is that this is definitely a series. Each book ends on a cliffhanger, so that the reader has to pick up the next book. Depending on the reader, this may not be an issue. Personally, even though I enjoyed each book and planned to continue, I still found it irritating and manipulative; if these authors co-write future series, I plan to wait until they are done before purchasing any of the books. For those who don’t mind cliffhangers, I still recommend waiting until Down and Dirty is complete so that you can binge-read the whole thing.
Recommended to fans of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, The Witchkin Murders by Diana Pharaoh Francis, Death Before Dragons by Lindsay Buroker, and the Guild Codex by Annette Marie.
[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]