Rating: 4.5 stars
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With one horrific explosion, psychic Investigator Flynn Adder’s world turns to rubble and the lives of everyone Flynn loves are put in the greatest peril he has ever known. And that is saying a lot, considering that Flynn Adder works for The Night Shift, a secret paranormal agency that keeps the lid on the activities of the weird, supernatural, and Fae. From werewolves to ghouls to trolls to magical objects, they all fall under the jurisdiction of The Night Shift, a world-wide organization created to keep humans safe and oblivious to the magical and mythical beings all around them.
But the Chicago Night Shift headquarters has just exploded, killing most of the psych corps, witches, and other beings that made up the Chicago squad. Only a few escaped, including Flynn, his husband Jack, and a few of their colleagues. With the supernatural side of Chicago now left to their own devices and impulses,the City is helpless and defenseless. Added to the conflagration, the murderous culprit is on the loose and soon strikes again. Flynn, Jack, and the rest need help in order to survive and hunt down the person responsible for killing so many of their friends and colleagues. When the investigation start to lead back to Flynn and his family history, Flynn starts to realize that this case might cost him everything he has worked so hard to achieve: his sobriety, his lover, and their family.
Well, this was a surprise. I loved this book and the entire Night Shift crew. The Hellfire Legacy is the third (and possibly last) book in The Night Wars series by Missouri Dalton. I had reviewed book #2, The Night Shift, and found it wanting, primarily due to the last of back history and its cliffhanger ending. This book displays none of the issues I had with The Night Shift, and while it is part of a series, I found that this book could be read as a standalone and totally enjoyed as such. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back and look at the exposition of histories and backstories of the characters and events as related in The Hellfire Legacy.
Missouri Dalton has done a remarkable job of folding the back stories of the characters with the history of The Night Shift agency into the current storyline in such a way that the reader will feel absolutely up to date on all prior events that occurred in the previous books without actually having to go read them. I missed this element in The Night Shift and was thrilled to see a much more substantial world building here. In fact the entire book is more complete, more layered in every aspect. The storytelling is taut, the action suspenseful and fast moving, and the emotional content will keep the reader on a constant level of high expectations and excitement.
Even the characters seem more fully alive and have more depth than I remember from the previous story. Flynn, Jack, Simon, Howl, and the rest are all put to the test are they become not only the hunters but the hunted as well. Flynn’s personality and character is under such duress that his sobriety is threatened as is his stability to act as an investigator. He is operating on no sleep, pain medication, and shear desperation and the author makes us feel every bit of his anxiety and exhaustion as Flynn stretches his physical and emotional resources to their limits. Really, the vivid descriptions of each character and their actions not only help to connect the reader on an intimate level to each person but to bring the story home to a deeply emotional degree because we have come to care for them all. In addition, we are given new characters to connect with that hopefully we will see again in future stories because they are that interesting and quirky. I loved Lu and the vulpe Remy and Granda Adder, a ghost. In fact we get more of everyone’s history, the Adders, Jack’s, and more. It’s wonderful, it’s fascinating and it makes the reader want to learn even more.
The locales from Chicago to Ireland are given the same attention to detail and depth that the characters display. Moving the setting from their home base of Chicago to various locations serves to keep not only the characters off center and uncertain, but the reader as well. Each new city brings an uncertainty and anxiety to the plot while heightening our interest in each area. I loved this aspect of the novel too. Dalton’s research and knowledge of each location shows. Clearly, the author knows Columbus, Ohio and the Columbus College of Art and Design. Here is an excerpt from Flynn’s travels to Ohio:
“Fynn, that’s the third time we’ve passed that giant red A.”
“It’s says art,” Simon corrected Jack. “Why is there so much construction around here anyway?”
“Who knows?” Jack said. I gritted my teeth and pulled over into the road the giant letter A straddled. Oh, it did say art. Huh.
“Okay. Simon, Lu, you look young and college-ish, go get directions.” We appeared to be on a college campus — an art school given the giant sign and random pieces of modern sculpture. The two gave me a look. “Sure thing, boss,” Simon replied. “Come on, Lu.” They got out of the van and started for the largest, closest building. It was concrete, modern, and possibly the ugliest piece of construction I’d ever seen. I looked away before it burned into my memory. There were two churches within sight, and a few more ugly concrete and glass buildings.
Simon and Lu quickly returned with a very short-haired, svelte girl in tow. She reminded me a bit of a pixie. I rolled down my window. “Well?”
“Fynn, this is Liz. Liz, Fynn. She’s got directions for you.”
Liz smiled. “So you’ll want to get back on Broad Street and go West to 315 North, that’ll take you right to the Kinnear road exit. That should get you out of the construction.”
“Sweet, simple and easy to remember, thanks, Liz. You’ve been a big help.”
“No problem, happy to help.” Lu and Simon got back in the car, we bid goodbye to Liz and took her directions — and finally ended up in the right place.
In case you were wondering, here the giant A they were talking about is spot on and accurate in every detail. I loved this aspect of The Hellfire Legacy and appreciated the richness of detail the authors adds to each scenery change.
The story is told from Flynn’s point of view and I like his dry, sarcastic voice. Here is a example:
I noticed immediately that we might have a slight problem. The language I overheard most frequently was Gaelic, something I had only passing familiarity with. I mean, I once knit Connor an illusion scarf that read Pog Ma Thon, but beyond telling people to kiss my ass, I really didn’t know any useful Gaelic.
Very telling. You get a sense of Flynn’s dry humor, and the fact that he knits gifts for people he cares about (and that he is a constant knitter). All of this just adds that wonderful creative, caring layer to his personality. It’s a lovely surprise and one among many.
And finally, the thing that really puts me over the edge, a cliffhanger, is missing here. The ending is fulfilling and yet leaves open the possibility of more fun and quixotic adventures to come. I mean, he made a deal with a leprechaun for God’s sake. Who does that? Hopefully we will find out how that whopper of a mistake gets resolved in a future story.
What does this all mean? Well for me, it means that I will go back to the beginning of the series and read The Hangman’s Ghost, the book that started it all and then revisit The Night Shift (and perhaps offer up a mea culpa or two). For you, it means you should head out and buy this book. If you want, get all three and read them right through for a Flynn Adder and The Night Shift triple feature. Either way, it works. Live on the wild side! But no matter how you approach it, buy the book. You won’t be sorry and might even leave addicted. Just as I did.
Here are the books in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and the events:
- The Hangman’s Ghost
- The Night Shift
- The Hellfire Legacy