Title: The Entity Game (Aurora Donati Book One)
Publisher: Murwood Media LLC
Author: Lisa Shearin
Price: $14.99 (paperback) / $7.99 (ebook)
Aurora Donati is a private investigator, a motorcycle aficionado, a poker shark, and a psychometric. She only has to touch a person to pick up their thoughts and emotions, or an object to see its history. A useful talent for a private investigator, but not so great for building personal relationships. Not that she is alone; Aurora comes from a long line of psychics, including her parents and her beloved grandfather. When her grandfather’s closest friend dies of seemingly natural causes, Aurora is drawn into an international conspiracy involving the CIA, corrupt politicians, a Russian oligarch, and a psychokinetic assassin who can kill with a single glance ….
I first discovered Shearin when I read her series, The SPI Files. I loved it, and it remains one of my favorite urban fantasy series. As such, I was excited to see the new Aurora Donati book, which is less magic-and-myth and more paranormal political thriller.
Overall, it was a heck of a fun ride. Aurora is a terrific character. She follows a seriously stringent ethical code; that is the only way that she can function with her gift and still be able to live with herself. And, while her gift is often a curse, she has found a useful purpose for it; she solves otherwise unsolvable cases, brings justice to those who need it, and has forged strong friendships in the process.
The supporting cast is wonderful, too. Samuel Rees, an FBI agent with his own gift (he can sense and often identify other psychic abilities). Berta Pike, Rees’ partner and Aurora’s best gal pal, who is as tough as they come. Ambrose, Aurora’s venerable grandfather, an art expert who has traveled the world to make sure that lost and stolen works are returned to their rightful owners. And, of course, Gabriel Marshall (probably not his real name), a mysterious CIA operative trying to navigate secrets and conflicting orders to figure out what is really going on.
I did have a few problems with the book; not with the story, but with the structure of the narrative itself. First, there are a lot of abbreviated recaps. Something would happen or Aurora would learn an important piece of information; rather than skip the scene in which Aurora relays that to other characters, Shearin would insert something like “And then I told him this and that, and than this happened, so I told him about that.” This device would have been fine when used two or maybe three times, but Shearin used it repeatedly, and it got to be a bit distracting.
The action sequences also feel weirdly cut-off. There just isn’t enough detail in some of them. For instance, in one particularly notable scene, Aurora, Gabriel, and their FBI escort have escaped an ambush, only to be pinned down by a sniper in the woods. No descriptions of the shots ricocheting off trees, of the characters diving for cover, or trying to figure out what to do. Berta Pike just says she’s going off to get a souvenir, and that’s it. Next thing we know, the sniper has been captured alive and everyone is safe and flying away in a helicopter.
That being said, The Entity Game was a fun and engaging read. The hunt for the assassin kept me hooked, and I really got into the evolving relationship between Aurora and Gabriel. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the second book in the series when it is released.
Recommended to fans of Shearin’s other books, as well as fans of Rebecca Chastain’s Deadlines and Dryads, the Quentin Black series by J.C. Andrijeski, Heather Graham’s Krewe of Hunters series, and Craig Schaefer’s Ghosts of Gotham.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. A complete list of her published works can be found there.]