Title: Curse of the Phoenix (The Arcane Irregulars Book One)
Publisher/Author: Dan Willis
Pages: 278pp
Price: $22.99 / $14.99 / $4.99

Private Investigator Alex Lockerby and Sorceress Sorsha Kinkaid are out of town. When a string of magical murders rock New York City, it’s time for the “irregulars” to step up: Lt. Daniel Pak of the NYPD and Agent William “Buddy” Redhorn of the FBI. With the behind-the-scenes assistance of Alex’ secretary Sherry (who has some magical gifts of her own), the two men slowly draw closer to the murderer — only to discover the true extent of his mad and terrible plan ….

I’ve been a fan of The Arcane Casebook series since the first book was released, so I was thrilled when Willis announced a spin-off series featuring some of the supporting characters having their own adventures. While it definitely helps to have read the preceding books in The Arcane Casebook series, it’s not necessary: Willis does a great job of catching readers up on everything that’s happened and orienting them in the new book.

While the mystery was definitely engaging, what I liked best about this book was the insight it offered into Pak and Redhorn, and their lives on and off the job. Pak is a new lieutenant, struggling to keep up with the administrative side of the job; some days, he misses being a detective. Redhorn is by the book, but a highly skilled investigator who just wants to get the job done; he dislikes office politics and lazy, bigoted agents. It also turns out that he is happily married and a doting father.

The magic was also a heck of a lot of fun, if horrifying. One victim turns into living paint; another grows shark teeth because she is just so desperately hungry. And the fight on the elevated train was a cinematic, wild ride.

Recommended to fans of The Arcane Casebook series, as well as fans of magical pulp noir.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]

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