"Dead on Delivery," Eileen Rendahl

Pros: Fun plots & characters; action, humor, and good chemistry; creative
Cons: Still some inconsistencies and character foolishness
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Melina is still delivering packages as a supernatural Messenger. Unfortunately, the mundane recipients of two of her most recent deliveries died soon after under mysterious circumstances. She’s faced with the realization that she was used to kill them, and she can’t just stand back and let it happen. Her investigation soon leads her into a real mess: an old hate crime, voodoo-like poppets, and a police chief who’d like nothing more than to toss her behind bars. Oh, yeah, and all this comes on top of trying to run the dojo she inherited from Mae. Luckily she still has her friends to help her out, including her cop boyfriend Ted, her naive roommate Norah, ER doc and vampire Alex, sexy older witch Meredith, bartender/werewolf Paul, and her own protege: Sophie.


 

Take this with a big ol’ grain of salt, because I’m just speculating. However, the first two Messenger novels, Don’t Kill the Messenger and Dead on Delivery, both make me suspect that Eileen Rendahl is a wildly talented and creative writer who still needs to polish her craft. And that if she does that polishing, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Now here’s why I think that. There’s a great deal of creativity and originality in her ideas. I love the kiang shi in the first novel and how they were used. The bad guy in this book, his/her goals and methods (sorry, trying not to give too much away), fascinated me. Her characters have a great deal of individuality and life to them. Her world feels interesting and sucks me in, and I have no trouble picturing what’s going on. Some of the interactions between Melina and the police chief in this one particularly delighted me, and I loved seeing a vampire’s stalking tendencies called out as, well, exactly that: stalking and creepy, not romantic.

On the other hand, there tend to be inconsistencies and little holes that go unfilled. There weren’t as many in Dead on Delivery as in Don’t Kill the Messenger, but they were still there. The characters also have a tendency to be overly stupid, taking far too long to put two and two together and get four. While I like the fact that the main character is rather unrepentantly bitchy in some ways (it’s kind of a nice change), she carries it too far into the self-pitying and whiny end of things.

I absolutely want to read more of Rendahl’s Messenger books, which I can’t often say about books with those kinds of flaws. That should give you an idea of just how much the good aspects pull me in. But I do hope that she continues fixing up the negative issues.

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