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The smell of Eucalyptus always made me think of Southern California, my home away from home; now it might forever be entwined with the scent of blood. I stood there with the strangely hot wind rustling through the high leaves. It blew my summer dress in a tangle around my legs, and spread my shoulder-length hair in a scarlet web across my face. I grabbed my hair in handfuls so I could see, though maybe not being able to see would have been better. The plastic gloves pulled at my hair. They were designed so I didn't contaminate evidence, not for comfort. We were surrounded by a nearly perfect circle of the tall, pale tree trunks. In the middle of that natural circle were the bodies.
The spicy smell of the Eucalyptus could almost hide the scent of blood. If it had been this many adult human-sized bodies the Eucalyptus wouldn't have had a chance, but they weren't adult-sized. They were tiny by human standards, so tiny, the size of dolls; none of the corpses were even a foot tall, and some were less than five inches. They lay on the ground with their bright butterfly and moth wings frozen as if in mid-movement. Their dead hands were wrapped around wilted flowers like a cheerful game gone horribly wrong. They looked like so many broken Barbie dolls, except that Barbie dolls never lay so lifelike, or so perfectly poised. No matter how hard I'd tried as a little girl, their limbs remained stiff and unyielding. The bodies on the ground were stiff with rigor mortis, but they'd been laid out carefully, so they had stiffened in strangely graceful, almost dancing poses.
Detective Lucy Tate came to stand beside me. She was wearing a pants suit complete with jacket and a white button-up shirt that strained a little across the front because Lucy, like me, had too much figure for most button-up shirts. But I wasn't a police detective so I didn't have to pretend I was a man to try to fit in. I worked at a private detective agency that used the fact that I was Princess Meredith, the only American-born fey royal, and back working for the Grey Detective Agency: Supernatural Problems; Magical Solutions. People loved paying money to see the princess, and have her hear their problems; I'd begun to feel a little like a freak show until today. Today I would have loved to be back in the office listening to some mundane matter that didn't really need my special brand of help, but was just a human rich enough to pay for my time. I'd have rather been doing a lot of things than standing here staring down at a dozen dead fey.
"What do you think?" she asked.
What I really thought was that I was glad the bodies were small so that the trees covered most of the smell, but that would be admitting weakness, and you didn't do that on the rare occasions you got to work with the police. You had to be professional and tough or they thought less of you, even the female cops, maybe especially them.
"They're laid out like something from a children's storybook down to the dancing poses and the flowers in their hands."
Lucy nodded. "It's not just like, it is."
"Is what?" I asked, looking at her. Her dark brunette hair was cut shorter than mine, and held back by a thick band so that nothing obscured her vision, as I still fought with my own hair. She looked cool and professional.
She used one plastic-gloved hand to hold out a plastic-wrapped page. She held it out to me, though I knew not to touch it even with the gloves. I was a civilian, and I had been very aware of that as I walked through all the police on the way to the center of all this activity. The police were never that fond of the private detective, no matter what you see on television, and I wasn't even human. Of course, if I'd been human they wouldn't have called me down to the murder scene in the first place. I was here because I was a trained detective and a faerie princess. One without the other wouldn't have gotten me under the police tape.
I stared at the page. The wind tried to snatch it from her hand, and she used both hands to hold it steady for me. It was an illustration from a children's book. It was dancing faeries with flowers in their hands. I stared at it for a second more, then looked down at the bodies on the ground. I forced myself to study their dead forms, then looked at the illustration.
"They're identical," I said.
"I believe so, though we'll have to have some kind of flower expert tell us if the flowers match up bloom for bloom, but except for that our killer has duplicated the scene."
I stared from one to the other again, those laughing happy faces in the picture and the very still, very dead ones on the ground. Their skin had begun to change color already, turning that bluish-purple cast of the dead.
"He, or she, had to dress them," I pointed out. "No matter how many illustrations you see with these little blousy dresses and loincloth things, most demi-fey outside of faerie don't dress like this. I've seen them in three-piece suits and formal evening wear."
"You're sure they didn't wear the clothes here?" she asked.
I shook my head. "They wouldn't have matched perfectly without planning it this way."
"We were thinking he lured them down here with a promise of an acting part, a short film," she said.
I thought about it, then shrugged. "Maybe, but they'd have come to the circle anyway."
"The demi-fey, the small winged fey, have a particular fondness for natural circles."
"The stories only tell humans not to step into a ring of toadstools, or a ring of actual dancing fey, but it can be any natural circle. Flowers, stones, hills, or trees, like this circle. They come to dance in the circle."
"So they came down here to dance and he brought the clothes?" She frowned at me.
"You think that it works better if he lured them down here to film them," I said.
"Either that or he watched them," I said, "so he knew they came down here on certain nights to dance."
"That would mean he or she was stalking them," Lucy said.
"If I go after the film angle, I can find the costume rental and the advertisement for actors for his short film." She made little quote marks in the air for the word film.
"If he's just a stalker and he made the costumes, then you have fewer leads to follow."
"Don't say he. You don't know that the killer is a he."
"You're right, I don't. Are you assuming that the killer isn't human?"
"Should we be?" she asked, her voice neutral.
"I don't know. I can't imagine a human strong enough or fast enough to grab six demi-fey and slit their throats before the others could escape or attack him."
"Are they as delicate as they look?" she asked.
I almost smiled, and then didn't feel like finishing it. "No, Detective, they aren't. They're much stronger than they look, and incredibly fast."
"So we aren't looking for a human?"
"I didn't say that. I said that physically humans couldn't do this, but there is some magic that might help them do it."
"What kind of magic?"
"I don't have a spell in mind. I'm not human. I don't need spells to use against other fey, but I know there are stories of magic that can make us weak, catchable, and hurtable."
"Yeah, aren't these kind of fey supposed to be immortal?"
I stared down at the tiny lifeless bodies. Once the answer would have simply been yes, but I'd learned from some of the lesser fey at the Unseelie Court that some of them had died falling down stairs, and other mundane causes. Their immortality wasn't what it used to be, but we had not publicized that to the humans. One of the things that kept us safe was that the humans thought they couldn't hurt us easily. Had some human learned the truth and exploited it? Was the mortality among the lesser fey getting worse? Or had they been immortal and magic had stolen it away?
"Merry, you in there?"
I nodded and looked at her, glad to look away from the bodies. "Sorry, I just never get used to seeing this kind of thing."
"Oh, you get used to it," she said, "but I hope you don't see enough dead bodies to be that jaded." She sighed, as if she wished she wasn't that jaded either.
"You asked me if the demi-fey are immortal, and the answer is yes." It was all I could say to her until I found out if the mortality of the fey was spreading. So far it had only been a few cases inside faerie.
"Then how did the killer do this?"
I'd only seen one other demi-fey killed by a blade that wasn't cold iron. A noble of the Unseelie Court had wielded that one. A noble of faerie, and my blood kin. We'd killed the sidhe who did it, although he said that he hadn't meant to kill her. He had just meant to wound her through the heart as her desertion of him had wounded his heart- poetic and the kind of romantic drivel you get when you're used to being surrounded by beings who can have their heads chopped off and still live. That last bit hasn't worked in a long time even among the sidhe, but we haven't shared that either. No one likes to talk about the fact that their people are losing their magic and their power.
Was the killer a sidhe? Somehow I didn't think so. They might kill a lesser fey out of arrogance or a sense of privilege, but this had the taste of something much more convoluted than that-a motive that only the killer would understand.
I looked carefully at my own reasoning to make certain I wasn't talking myself out of the Unseelie Court, the Darkling Throng, being suspects. The court that I had been offered rulership of and given up for love. The tabloids were still talking about the fairy-tale ending, but people had died, some of them by my hand, and, like most fairy tales, it had been more about blood and being true to yourself than about love. Love had just been the emotion that had led me to what I truly wanted, and who I truly was. I guess there are worse emotions to follow.
"What are you thinking, Merry?"
"I'm thinking that I wonder what emotion led the killer to do this, to want to do this."
"What do you mean?"
"It takes something like love to put this much attention into the details. Did the killer love this book or did he love the small fey? Did he hate this book as a child? Is it the clue to some horrible trauma that twisted him to do this?"
"Don't start profiling on me, Merry; we've got people paid to do that."
"I'm just doing what you taught me, Lucy. Murder is like any skill; it doesn't fall out of the box perfect. This is perfect."
"The killer probably spent years fantasizing about this scene, Merry. They wanted, needed it to be perfect."
"But it never is. That's what serial killers say when the police interview them. Some of them try again and again for the real-life kill to match the fantasy, but it never does, so they kill again and again to try to make it perfect."
Lucy smiled at me. "You know, that's one of the things I always liked about you."
"What?" I asked.
"You don't just rely on the magic; you actually try to be a good detective."
"Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?" I asked.
"Yeah, but you'd be surprised how many psychics and wizards are great at the magic but suck at the actual detecting part."
"No, I wouldn't, but remember, I didn't have that much magic until a few months ago."
"That's right, you were a late bloomer." And she smiled again. Once I'd thought it was strange that the police could smile over a body, but I'd learned that you either lighten up about it or you transfer out of homicide, or better yet, you get out of police work.
"I've already checked, Merry. There are no other homicides even close to this one. No demi-fey killed in a group. No costumes. No book illustration left. This is one of a kind."
"Maybe it is, but you helped teach me that killers don't start out this good. Maybe they just planned it perfectly and got lucky that it was this perfect, or maybe they've had other kills that weren't this good, this thought-out, but it would be staged, and it would have this feel to it."
"What kind of feel?" she asked.
"You thought film not just because it would give you more leads, but because there's something dramatic about it all. The setting, the choice of victims, the display, the book illustration; it's showy."
She nodded. "Exactly," she said.
The wind played with my purple sundress until I had to hold it to keep it from flipping up and flashing the police line behind us.
"I'm sorry to drag you out to something like this on a Saturday, Merry," she said. "I did try to call Jeremy."
"He's got a new girlfriend and keeps turning off his phone." I didn't begrudge my boss, the first semi-serious lover he'd had in years. Not really.
"You look like you had a picnic planned."
"Something like that," I said, "but this didn't do your Saturday any good either."
She smiled ruefully. "I didn't have any plans." She stabbed a thumb in the direction of the other police. "Your boyfriends are mad at me for making you look at dead bodies while you're pregnant."
My hands automatically went to my stomach, which was still very flat. I wasn't showing yet, though with twins the doctor had warned me that it could go from nothing to a lot almost overnight.
I glanced back to see Doyle and Frost, standing with the policemen. My two men were no taller than some of the police-six feet and some inches aren't that unusual-but the rest stood out painfully. Doyle had been called the Queen's Darkness for a thousand years, and he fit his name, black from skin to hair to the eyes behind their black wraparound sunglasses. His black hair was in a tight braid down his back. Only the silver earrings that climbed from lobe to the pointed tip of his ears relieved the black-on-black of his jeans, T-shirt, and leather jacket. The last was to hide the weapons he was carrying. He was the captain of my bodyguards, as well as one of the fathers to my unborn children, and one of my dearest loves. The other dearest love stood beside him like a pale negative, skin as white as my own, but Frost's hair was actually silver like Christmas tree tinsel, shining in the sunlight. The wind played with his hair so that it floated outward in a shimmering wave like some model with a wind machine, but even though his hair was near ankle-length and unbound, it did not tangle in the wind. I'd asked him about that, and he'd said simply, "The wind likes my hair." I hadn't known what to say to that so I hadn't tried.
From the Hardcover edition.
Another disappointment. The plot went absolutely nowhere and the author repeats herself so many times that it's almost insulting to the reader. This is the 8th book in the series. We understand who Meredith is and who all the men in her life are. And if you've explained once in detail why Merry wears a knife under her skirt but specifically touching her skin do you then need to do the exact same explanation a few chapters later. It's ridiculous that there's a couple short chapters of plot then Meredith has sex. A small bit of plot then more sex with different people. And the sex isn't even good any more!! How many times did we read about Merry screaming out her lover's name? Has Laurell Hamilton written so many sex scenes between Anita and Merry that she just ran out of descriptive words? I picked up these books when the Anita Blake series turned into purely erotic fiction. Plenty of sex with Merry as well but there seemed to be a really good story most of the time as the men kept coming into their powers and she struggled politically. I have a feeling Merry's series just went right downhill with Anita's. I honestly don't know why I keep reading them at all since I just get disappointed over and over. There are so many other series out there that are smart, thrilling, imaginative and sexy that I don't know why I keep wasting my time.
14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2009
After the thrilling events of Swallowing Darkness which almost impossibly tied up many questions about Merry and her men, Divine Misdeameanors takes readers on a rudderless and uninteresting ride around southern California. The mystery falls flat, and gives too much time to peripheral characters that don't advance the story line. I fear that this series is dead, if this is the type of story we have to look forward to for Merry. Swallowing Darkness should have been the finale!
12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2009
They were crowned queen and king of the Unseelie Court by Faerie and the Goddess, but Princess Merry and her bodyguard lover Doyle choose to return to California and set up her own court. Now they live in Los Angeles where they stay together based on love and trust instead of pain and intrigue. They earn a living at sleuths at the Grey Detective Agency.--------------
Their latest case is horrible. Twenty demi-elves (small Barbie like creatures with wings who look like angels but are anything but the sort) were killed and posed as if they were in a children's book. The only living witness, a survivor of the massacre of the serial killing of her kind, obviously saw something but flees before the detectives can question her. A few days later, a brownie and her human husband are killed in their home once again posed from another children's story. The two sleuths learn there are two killers, one with wings, bur many creatures have wings in Faerie. Merry and her retinue know only one way to prevent more ritual murders; she is served up as bait.------------
Laurell K. Hamilton shows her talent to make alternate worlds filled with mythological creatures living side by side with humans seem real. Merry is a heroine who avoids the Seelie and Unseelie Courts as she detests the intrigue that flows everywhere like light waves do on earth. The Goddess still favors her and creates a new faerie mound in aptly named Los Angeles in an apropos apartment building. The investigation is entertaining as Merry cannot help her people by offering herself as a potential sacrifice to catch serial killers. Even with that as the prime theme, Ms. Hamilton is at her provocative sensual best in Divine Misdemeanors.--------------------
10 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I love Laurell K. hamilton but her latest books don't impress me much. I was so excited for the next book of the Meredith Gentry series and normally i can't put her books down but this one i could. It felt like a filler book. Nothing big happened and there wasn't anything really new about the characters you love in this series. The end was really anticlimatic, it reminded me of her other latest book from the Anita Blake series. You read about this powerful bad guy who is so strong and in both books, the bad guy gets defeated in like 2 pages. So in my opinion the book was ok. If you love the series i still recommend to get it but wait until its cheaper or rent it from your local library. I really hope Hamilton gets back on her game, i still have hope yet:)
8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2009
I think this is the first time I've come across a book that had 352 pages but expanded so little on the overall plot. I was so excited and couldn't wait to read it and all i could think was wow i was excited for this. I suggest borrowing this from the library, Don't waste your money!
7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 25, 2009
I have been looking forward to this book for so long and it was such a let down. It lacked all the fantasy, romance and thrills the books before it had. The plot took Meredith back to California, when no one cares about that. We want to know what is going on in the fairy mound with the Queen and some more action! It is almost as if a whole different person wrote this book. Jeez Hamilton, what a way to let down your fans!
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 2009
I Also Recommend:
The story starts off with a murder scene that she has been called to by the police and here I am thinking, "Oh yes, back to the original formula." Little do i yet know here comes the, "how do you put yourself in danger your pregnant" diatribe for a dozen pages. Talk about start with a bang for two or three chapter then go fizzle, fizzle. The true telling point is when I can skip paragraphs at a time and not miss them in the main story. LKH truly give meaning to filler in much of the descriptions that are plentiful and snooze worthy. And when a conversation between the guards and Merry would get interesting, inevitability there would be an interuption and ruin the section of the book making it disjointed. I was truly disappointed, but then again the big triumph was in the last novel, so perhaps my expectations were too high. If you are a fan of the series none of this will matter and you will read the book and get your fix. But to all you first timers or those slightly interested, i recommend the library or to skip it. I long for the stories of the 1990s that LKH once wrote and I'm in mourning for trees that had to die to produce this book.
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2009
"Blah, blah, blah..." is what I kept thinking to myself as I was reading this book. I love the Meredith Gentry series, but this one was so disappointing that I'm angry that I even bought this book instead of borrowing it from the library. I was reading Chapter 42 when I felt like this book was still going nowhere in it's plot, which was really sad because I was nearing the end of the book. Even then I had hope that somehow the ending would make up for how badly the rest of the book sucked, but even when I finished the last page, I thought to myself, "That's it?!"
This book went into so much detail describing every single character that was in it, that I kept forgetting what the story was even about. It also spent a great amount of time recapping all the previous books in this series with very little time creating a story of it's own. I'm so disappointed that I'm not even sure that I'll even bother to continue reading the Meredith Gentry series. If I do, I'll be sure to borrow it from the library rather than spend my own money on it.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2009
seemed jumpy, switched locations right in the middle of a paragraph. Had a couple areas of repeativeness, almost word for word. Getting a little tired of the whinning. I consider myself a diehard fan of Laurell's work, but it is getting really hard to buy the next book after reading this one.
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2011
This book seems to have been churned out just to fill a yearly
book quota. If this is the end of this series, then prehaps its
for the best. Hopefully, Ms. hamilton can come up with something
new and fresh.The Anita Blake series and this series had so much
potential, but far too many similarities shared between them.
Ms.Hamilton is an excellent writer but, these two series should
be put to bed.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2012
I would like to see all of the peoplle who didn't like this book...Because it wasn't her best. Come up with your own series, NO, two series, of her quality. I think she has done an excellent job. I can't wait til she comes out with another meridith gentry book!!!!
YOU SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!!!
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Posted January 7, 2011
Was there actually a story in here or was this book simply to move the pregnancy along? I was very disappointed. It seems like this book was 1) woo hoo we're pregnant 2) let's have sex everywhere with every character and bring everyone into their 'powers', 3) and maybe solve a murder mystery.
The ending was like "okay, Merry's pregnant - fast forward to the next book I'm going to write with whatever bizarro sex stuff I dream up for the delivery book".
I'm just not liking this story line much anymore.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
LKH has done a wonderful job again with the newest Merry book. The continuing tale of the self-imposed exile in LA while trying to solve murders by a serial killer(s) and keep her people safe is engaging and hard to put down. As always, I am left with wanting to read more when the book is ending.
I highly recommend reading the series from the first book before picking up Divine Misdeameanors. If you like this you will also enjoy her other series Anita Blake Vampire Hunter.
Other authors who are noteworthy: Chris Marie Green, Rachel Caine, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rachelle Meade, Gena Showalter.
2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 19, 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was nice to see Merry on the West Coast for an entire book and showing what she does for a living and how her princess status affects her ability to work. I love how the paparazzi played a role in this as well as how integrated the fey were into different aspects of the city. But most of all I enjoyed the doling out of reality she bestowed upon characters and the reading audience. Making the men of her court understand that being royalty doesn't mean there aren't bills to play and people to support. Nor does it mean that they all have a right to her body or getting all of the powers back no matter how much they may want them. And that sometimes love really is the answer.
2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2013
I have read most of her book from both series. I already gave up on Anita Blake. This was so dry, so uninteresting, that I am sure I will not buy the next one. I might read it and hope, but I won't waste any more money on her books.
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Posted December 17, 2009
I love both the Merry and Anita series' and was excited for this, the 8th of the Merry series. Since she gave up the crown for love, a number of new issues and concerns will arise. Unfortunately, that was the bulk of the book....issues, new arisings and concerns with no resolutions, just the presentation of the problem. The only resolution is the murder they are investigating for this book. It was almost overwhelming, there were so many unrelated issues brought up, discussed briefly, and then completely dropped. The characters and happenings that should or could have be explored better were not and one character dropped in only for a sex scene that seemed minimally related to the entire book........That being said I did enjoy the book. I believe that it sets up for changes that will be approaching in this new life they are making for themselves. As much as I think too much was presented for the future I am excited to see where it will go. It was not one of the best of the series, but it will probably be an important piece to the overall story.
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Posted December 14, 2009
I was so excited when I got this in the mail and cracked it open and started reading it.... then I was so UNHAPPY! Not sure what happened with this is book, but I did not like it at all. Over all it was just ok to me. It seemed to be missing or lacking something and I just can not put my finger on what it is.
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Posted October 2, 2013
Posted March 2, 2013
Horrible ending to what was an interesting series. I am believing the rumors that her husband either wrote the first books or helped LKH with the plot lines. The spark is gone from all of her stories once they got divorced.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.