Heart of Stone

Heart of Stone

by C. E. Murphy

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Rediscover the enthralling world of the Negotiator urban fantasy series from acclaimed author C.E. Murphy.

Jogging through Central Park after midnight may not have been the brightest idea, but Margrit Knight never thought she’d encounter a dark new world filled with magical beings—not to mention a dying woman and a mysterious stranger with blood on his hands. Her logical, lawyer instincts told her it couldn’t all be real—but she could hardly deny what she’d seen…and touched.

The mystery man, Alban, was a gargoyle. One of the fabled Old Races who had hidden their existence for centuries. Now he was a murder suspect, and he needed Margrit’s help to take the heat off him and find the real killer. And as the dead pile up, it’s a race against the sunrise to clear Alban’s name and keep them both alive…

Originally published in 2007

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488057649
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 07/15/2019
Series: The Negotiator
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 58,363
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

C.E. Murphy is the author of more than twenty books—along with a number of novellas and comics. Born in Alaska, currently living in Ireland, she does miss central heating, insulation and—sometimes--snow but through the wonders of the internet, her imagination and her close knit family, she’s never bored or lonely. While she does travel through time (sadly only forward, one second at a time) she can also be found online at www.cemurphy.net or @ce_murphy on Twitter

Read an Excerpt

She ran, long strides that ate the pavement despite her diminutive height. Her hair, full of corkscrew curls, was pulled back from her face, bunches jouncing as her feet impacted the asphalt surface. The words feminine and female, less interchangeable than they might seem, both described her well. Feminine, as he understood it, suggested a sort of delicacy, though not without strength. Female encompassed power as blunt and raw as sex. Watching her, neither descriptor would suffice without the other.

Lithe and athletic, she ran nearly every night, usually not long after sundown. Tonight she was late; midnight was barely an hour off, closer by far than the late-January sunset. He watched from his arboreal refuge, hunched high above the concrete paths, protective and possessive of the slender woman taking her exercise in a dangerous city.

There were safer places to run, safer times; he thought she must know that. The park was notorious for nighttime crime, but she threw away caution for something greater. For defiance against an ordered world, and perhaps for the thrill of knowing the danger she put herself in. There was confidence in her action, too; her size very likely precluded fighting off attackers, but the muscles that powered her run would help her outpace any enemy that might approach. It was a gambit, and he liked her for it. It reminded him of other women he'd known, sometimes braver than wise, always willing to risk themselves for others. Such demonstrations made him remember there was life outside the confines he'd created for himself.

So he watched from high in the treetops, protecting her whether she knew it or not. Choosing to make her safe despite the independent streak that sent her running after dark, without taking away her illusion of bold solitude. She would never see him, he reasoned. Her people were predators, and they'd come from the trees. In the primitive part of the mind that spoke of caution, they were the danger that came from above.

Humans never looked up.

He shook himself as she took a corner, careening out of sight. Then he leaped gracefully over the treetops, following.

Air burned in her lungs, every breath of cold searing deep and threatening to make her cough with its dryness. Each footfall on the asphalt was the jolt of a syllable through her body: Ir. Ir. Ir. Ra. Shun. Al. There were slick patches on the trail, thin sheets of black ice that didn't reflect until she was on them. She slid ten inches, keeping her center as if she wore ice skates, stomach tightening to make her core solid. Keeping control in an out-of-control moment. The action stung her body as vividly as a man's touch might, heat sweeping through her without regard for sense or sensibility. Then the ice was gone and she was running again.

Eyes up, watching the trail and the woods. The air was brisk and as clear as it ever got in New York. Pathways were lit by lamps that buzzed and flickered at whim. Patches of dark were to be wary of, making her heart beat faster with excitement. No headset. Taking risks was one thing. Outright stupidity was another, and even she knew she ran a thin line between the two already. Her own labored breathing and the pounding of her footsteps were enough to drown out more nearby noise than was safe. That was part of it, too, part of the irresistible draw of the park. She was not safe. Nothing she did would ever make her wholly safe.

It was almost like being able to fly. "Irrational," Margrit whispered under her breath. The word seemed to give her feet wings like Hermes, sending her down the path with a new surge of speed. Feet jolting against the ground made echoes in her hips and breasts, every impact stinging her feet and reminding her of sex and laughter and the things that made life worth living.

Risking everything made it worth living. Friends, only half joking, wondered if she was suicidal, never quite understanding the adventure that drew Margrit to the park at night.

The Central Park rapist had confessed when she was in her first year of law school and still wondering if she should have chosen to follow in her parents' footsteps—either her mother's MBA or her father's medical degree—but the headlines that morning had solidified her belief in her own decision. Even now, seven years later, she knew her parents wished she'd chosen one of their professions, or at least a more profitable arm of law than the one she pursued, but thinking back to that day always rebuilt her confidence. Buoyed by the memory, she stretched her legs further and reached again for the feeling of freedom running in the park gave her.

Minutes later, she skidded to a halt under a light and leaned a hip against a battered bench, putting her hands on her knees. Her ponytail flipped upside down, nearly brushing the ground as she heaved in air. Thirty seconds and she would start running again. Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight.

"Good evening."

Margrit spasmed upward, whipping around to face the speaker. A man with pale hair and lifted eyebrows stood in the puddle of lamplight, several feet away. He was wearing a suit, and had his hands tucked in the pockets of the slacks.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to frighten you."

"Jesus Christ." She backed away a step or two, putting even more distance between herself and the man. Caution knotted her stomach, sending chills of adrenaline through her. "Get the hell away from me." Every muscle in her body was bunched, ready to sprint, but her heart pounded harder with the thrill of the encounter than with the impulse to run. She wore running shoes, as opposed to his smooth-soled leather slip-ons, and had a head start. Caution hadn't flared into panic or even true fear yet; her confidence in her own abilities was greater than the evident danger.

That degree of cockiness was going to get her killed someday.

Not today, Margrit whispered to herself, and aloud warned, "I have a gun."

His eyebrows rose higher. "I don't." He took his hands out of his pockets and lifted them slowly, so she could see more of his torso. His shirt was lilac in the lamplight, almost glowing against the jacket lining. There was no gun in evidence. "I was just out for a walk." He made a small, careful gesture to one side. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"Yeah, well, you freaking well did." Margrit edged back another step or two, balancing her weight on her toes. "This is Central Park, asshole. You don't start up conversations with people here. Especially in the middle of the night."

He spread his fingers. "Do you normally carry on conversations with people in Central Park in the middle of the night?"

"No." The excitement of the moment was passing, and so was the high from running. The sense of fun, if that was the right word for the encounter, faded with it. Margrit took one more step back. "I'm going now. Don't follow me." He had at least ten inches of height on her, but she had faith in her own speed. Faith warred with confidence, and both lost out to an unspoken admission of arrogance that almost brought an undermining smile to Margrit's lips.

"I won't, but—may I ask you one question?"

"You just did." Margrit curled her lip in irritation. She hated that particular piece of tomfoolery and resented it coming out of her own mouth. "What?"

"Where are you hiding your gun?" The man looked her up and down, more critically than lasciviously. Margrit glanced down at herself.

Tennies. Socks. Running tights with hot pink stripes that picked up the blue in the streetlamp and radiated neon purple. A snug white-and-green sweatshirt that covered her midriff only if she didn't move; otherwise, her belly flashed between hems.

There wasn't really anywhere for a gun.

Margrit looked up again. "None of your goddamn business." Her breath puffed in the cool air, reminding her that she was dressed for the late January weather only if she was running to keep herself warm. She bounced on her toes, muscle tightening in her calves. "Don't follow me," she warned again.

"I wouldn't dream of it," he murmured.

Margrit raced down the path, putting a dozen yards between herself and the man in a few seconds. When she looked back a moment later, he was gone.

"You're going to get yourself killed, Margrit." Margrit leaned against the open door, doubled over to pull at her laces. Her breath still came in little puffs, and she counted out syllables with each one. Ir. Ra. Shun. Al. The encounter in the park had her repeating the word more often than usual. Irrationally safe. Irrationally foolish. Irrationally defensive.

"Hello, nice to see you, too, my day was fine, thanks, how about yours? What are you doing up this late, anyway? Where's Cam?" Margrit closed the door and locked it, leaning against the knob with both hands behind her. Her roommate stood down the hall, filling the kitchen door frame. "Cole, I'm fine, really." She straightened and came down the corridor, brushing past him. His sweater, thick cable knit, touched her arm as she did so, and she added, "Nice sweater," in hopes of distracting him, before she breathed, "I'm fine," a final time.

"She went to bed already. Five a.m. client. Thank you," he added automatically. "Irish wool. Cam gave it to me for Christmas."

Margrit shuddered. "Five a.m. Better her than me. Oh yeah, I remember. I said I was going to borrow it and she threatened to tie my legs in a knot. It's a nice sweater. She has good taste."

"Of course she does. She's dating me." Cole offered a brief smile that fell away again as he visibly realized Margrit had succeeded in distracting him. "You're fine this time, Grit. I'm afraid you're going to get hurt." He scowled across the kitchen, more in concern than anger. "You shouldn't run after dark."

"I know, but I didn't get out of work until late."

"You never do."

"Cole, what are you, my housemate or my big brother?"

"I'm your friend, and I worry about you when you go out running in Central Park in the middle of the night. You're going to get yourself killed."

"Maybe, but not tonight." The words lifted hairs on her arms, a reminder that she'd thought something similar facing the pale-haired man in the park. She should have heard him, Margrit thought. Even over the sound of her own breathing, she should have heard his approach and departure. Being careless enough to allow someone to sneak up on her was alarming.

But there'd been nothing of the predator in the man, despite his height. Margrit had defended enough criminals to know when she was being sized up as bait. The man in the park had moved with graceful, slow motions, as if aware his very bulk bespoke danger, and he mitigated as best he could with calming actions. As if she might be an easily startled animal—which she supposed she was. The idea brought a brief smile to her lips. will coat, he'd seemed comfortable. The silk shirt beneath his suit jacket couldn't have afforded much warmth, but there'd been no shiver of cold flesh when he'd opened his jacket to show he was unarmed. Maybe the jacket had been so well cut as to hide padding, but Margrit doubted it. The breadth of shoulder and chest had looked to be all his own.

"And that what, renders him harmless?"

"I don't know. He looked like a lawyer or something. Speaking of which." Margrit cast a look of mock despair across the kitchen, at the same time feeling relief to have work that would take her mind off the blond man.

The kitchen expanded into the dining room, a solid-wood, double-door frame making the rooms nominally separate. Legal briefs and somber-colored binders were piled precariously on the dining room table, over which hung an enameled black birdcage instead of a light fixture. Two desk lamps fought for space on the edges of the table, bordering a laptop-size clearing. "I should get to work. Two hundred grand in student loans won't go away if I end up unemployed."

Cole snorted. "I know better, Margrit. You got through school on scholarships and help from your mom and dad."

Margrit pulled her lips back from her teeth in a false snarl. "You've known me too long. Let me tell myself little white lies, Cole. I like to pretend I'm not spoiled rotten. 'Mom and Dad paid for school' sounds so snotty. Anyway, I still won't have a job if I don't get my work done, and this place needs rent paid on it just like everywhere else."

"Did it ever occur to you working for somebody who paid better than Legal Aid might help with that?"

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Heart of Stone 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
AmorDeLibros More than 1 year ago
I was a little hesitant to try this trilogy, because the Walker Papers were just so good. I really loved Jo Walker and didn't see how Margrit Knight could be nearly as cool. But she is! I really loved the book for every reason. The characters, the plot, the innovative idea, everything! If you're a CE Murphy fan, an urban fantasy fan, or just looking for something unique, TRY THIS! I promise you'll love it!
Patokagwp More than 1 year ago
This is a good book and good enough to be intriguing and thrilling the 2nd time through it. It is one of the books that is in my permanent library. And I have had to prune that library severely due to lack of space. The characters are three-dimensional filled with their own strengths and weaknesses. C.E. Murphy is on my watch list and I love to see each new book that she has published.
dalnewt More than 1 year ago
Although the protagonist, Margrit, is abrasive and unbelievably reckless/pugilistic, this book works. Despite her somewhat annoying personality, Margrit comes across as sincere and dedicated. The 'Old Race' mythos is intriguing with gargoyles, selkies, dragons, djinn and, of course, a vampire. The lead male, a night bound gargoyle named Alban, is truly likable. Further, the other 'Old Race' characters are engaging and mysterious. The story is well-paced and plotted reaching a satisfying climax. I recommend this book to anyone who likes urban fantasy inhabited by imaginative creatures and sprinkled with budding romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was completely awesome i thought it was going to be on of those stories about a girl who met a guy and started falling in love but was already in a relationship but even though the story was somewhere along those lines it was totally different. it also got funny at times to the point where i laughed out loud. at first i thought someone watching you for three years was pretty freaky and i still do but in this book she made it kind of cute. at the end of the book i already had a image of what the outcome would be but it was completely wrong which i was very happy about. i love a good paranormal read and highly recommend this to people who start to get tired of reading about only vampires and werewolfs or to someone who likes to switch up there reading habits from time to time.
bgknighton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A nice entry into the series. Margrit is a lawyer, one who looks after the little people, Legal Aid, but who is going places. Alban is the mystery man in her life who stirs things up. The Old Races have been stagnant for years and things are about to get interesting.
mjwensel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I have not finished the book as of yet. This isn't because I don't enjoy the book, it's more because of the method of distribution of the ebook. I have no issues reading ebooks, in fact I like them, but the issue is using NetGalley as it requires Flash Player to work, and all my portable reading devices are Apple products. i do intend to attempt to finish reading this book but as of right now I have no idea when.The book is certainly a different take on the current supernatural genre. The heroine has an encounter with a gargoyle who is slightly obssessed with her and is accused of murder. The story is fairly well paced and interesting, if not exactly memorable. It is easy to pick-up and put down.More to follow.....
Octane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is set in a New York in which there are mythical creatures secretely living among ordinary humans. So far, so rather standard urban fantasy. However, instead of the omnipresent vampires (who appear only in a minor role) or werewolves C. E. Murphy focuses on lesser known races, like gargoyles or djinn.The main character, Margrit, is a lawyer, who has an on-off-relationship with a police officer and is suddenly introduced to the world of the Old Races. For the first third or so of the book, these aspects of her life seem a bit disconnected, but after that the pace of the book picks up and it all comes together rather nicely.While the plot is perhaps not entirely groundbreaking, I still enjoyed the book and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in urban fantasy.
Charliana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fun and refreshing read for those who enjoy urban fantasy. I've been on a bit of a UF binge so enjoyed the distinct lack of werewolves and only minor vampire appearance. Also a refreshing lack of gratuitous sex that many recent UF authors seem to deem essential to sales. It did take me a little while to warm up to the story and Magrit (not sure why), although I ended up enjoying Margrit's feisty character and was fascinated by Alban and the slowly developing relationship between the two of them.I enjoyed the occasional switch in the narrative to Alban's point of view too and enjoyed the contrast of the quieter, calmer thoughts of the gargoyle with the lively pace of Margrit's narrative. I also enjoyed the Magrit/Tony dynamic (some of their arguments are stellar) and some of other side characters - while it seems most are there to be introduced and I'm sure will appear more in the later books, they still added some interest to general proceedings (Janx was a particular favourite).Once I got into the book I was quite absorbed and if I'd had a hard copy (rather than ebook) I probably would have ended up reading the whole thing in one go. In fact, I enjoyed this read enough that I'm going to hunt out the others in the trilogy - I was pleasantly surprised to find they've already been published so there's no waiting! It was the first C E Murphy book I've read but I'll definitely try her other series now.
C4RO on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book makes pretty good urban fantasy reading. Once it gets going, there is a decent pace to the action and a novel mix of "Old Races" are introduced, including the less common djinn, selkies and gargoyles as well as the more usual vampires and dragons of the genre. The heroine is a gutsy lawyer-type who seems to like dropping swearwords occasionally, which I found a bit jarring as normally you'd expect lawyers to have a bit better ability to express themselves- but that is a small negative point. She has an on-off policeman boyfriend who is managing a murder case and she also meets a gargoyle called Alban who has gotten himself caught up in the same case as a suspect; this slightly ties the story to a small world but there are several other characters introduced and overall there is enough other plot points to not find it a very sparse story.I received this for the ER and do not have an e-book reader. I found it very difficult to read this on my PC, hence eventually I got myself a hard copy. This book was certainly good enough to justify trying the next two books also, which I hope are as good as this and develop more of this world.
crishaynes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first I wansn't sure whether I would like Margrit. She seemed a bit pushy, but she is a lawyer. As I progressed reading the book, I started to soften my opinion of her. I liked how the love interest, Alban, and her slowly developed. I had not read another urban fantasy book with the supernatural focus on Old Races and Gargoyles. I enjoyed the deviation from the standard fare. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and will be seeking the rest of this series.
teharhynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Started a little slow, but I liked that she used new 'old races' as compared to other urban fantasy authors.
blue_istari on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There seems to be an increasing trend in urban fantasy for writers to do something different. Supernatural beings who aren't vampires or werewolves. Heroines who don't literally kick ass. Enter Margrit Knight, a New York lawyer who's about to be sucked into a world existing alongside our own. It's a world which does, in fact, include vampires, but also gargoyles and a number of other 'Old Races' who aren't quite the norm in urban fantasy. Margrit herself isn't quite the norm either - aside from the occasional slap, she fights her enemies with words and intellect rather than violence.As a consequence, Heart of Stone is somewhat slower paced than some urban fantasies I've read recently, though that doesn't equate to boring. Murphy executes a sense of rising tension skilfully throughout the book, both in Margrit's investigations and in her relationship with the gargoyle Alban Korund. It's this relationship which forms the core emotional impact of the story and it's a fascinating relationship, although it does mean that some of the other characters are lost by the wayside as the book progresses - Tony, for example, a key player in the first half of the book, is largely absent from the second half.There are other problems too, although not huge ones. There are too many similar names, for one thing - Cam, Cole, Cara, Chelsea. I particularly struggled to tell Cam and Cole apart, as they're introduced at about the same time and often appear in the same scenes. One is male and one female, but both the names sound male to my ears, hence my problem. Then there are all the loose ends. It's clear that Heart of Stone is the beginning of a series, with many of the secondary characters feeling as if they'll be more important in later books. Personally, I felt there were a few too many of these secondary characters, some of which didn't really have enough to do.Overall, Heart of Stone is probably best read by those who are already urban fantasy fans and those looking for a new series to become invested in. The characters here are strong enough and Murphy's writing skillful enough to keep the interest of any fan, but it's too clearly the start of series to work for a casual reader wanting only a single book.
Squeex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh boy! I have heard of C E Murphy before. I have URBAN SHAMAN on Mt Git'r'Read (the nightstand section) and will read it soon. HEART OF STONE was my intro though. And what an introduction!There are some awesome action scenes and excellent characters of the Old Race sort. Vampires, gargoyles, djinn, selkies, dragons....all kinds.What I really enjoyed about this was that the main character, Margrit (Grit), is a normal human who doesn't have any magical, paranormal, any kind of Other about her (at least so far). She is smart, funny, stubborn, and brave. Grit doesn't take any crap and thinks fast on her feet, just like she runs. My favorite character is Janx. I know I shouldn't, but he is intriguing as all get out. He's not a 'good guy' but he has honor and he admires strength, so he admires Grit. Read the book and find out more about him. *wink* I requested this from LibraryThing and was lucky enough to win it to review last month. Had some problems with the e-book version and the publishers were sweet enough to send out the handheld version for me to read.Five Old Races are everywhere diamonds.....
Ceridwen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really excited to get this as part of the Early Reviewers program because I really enjoyed Murphy's Urban Shaman series. Unfortunately getting through this book was a bit of a struggle. While the premise is interesting the pacing of the book was a real killer for me especially in the beginning. The main character is likable and I am willing to give book two in the series a go.
pontori2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Got this from the Early Reviewers Program.Heart of Stone is a great book, an urban fantasy set in the backdrop of New York City. The heroine is strong willed, has her flaws, but is believable and likable at the same time. The concept of living gargoyles I've only seen once before - and that's Disney's cartoon. I really liked what Murphy did here. Her supernatural world is rich, but not too cluttered with every creature under the sun. I am definitely going to check out what else this author has written in this series.This is the second digital book I've gotten from the early reviewers program and I'm very glad this one didn't have any of the formatting problems the previous book had.
jayble on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has taken me a while to finish this book due to the very slow pacing. I enjoy the characters and the world building, but wish that the pace had been more even and that the ending hadn't moved so fast. Slow beginning and fast ending are one of the worst combinations. That said, this was a fun read with many supernatural characters, including a gargoyle. When you have a gargoyle as a main character, you really can't go wrong!
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written and enjoyable urban fantasy, with a surprising take on the whole supernatural element. Magrit is an active impulsive person, hardly the sort of controlled logician you expect in a lawyer, but that's what you get. New York isn't the cheapest city to earn a living, but an on and off again relationship with a cop helps focus the mind on her Legal Aid clients. Mid-celebration from her latest victory, Magrit is approached by her newest client - squatters wanting help in staving off an eviction. The evictor happens to be one of the biggest names in the city, and will be a hard case for Magrit to win given the opponents vast financial clout. The very next day she's almost the victim of a hit-and-run, and only the intervention of her very own stalker saves her - and opens her eyes to the strangeness that lives on around us. Her rescuer is a shape-shifting, telepathic, gargoyle - one of five Old Races surviving the advent of humanity. It turns out that he too is looking to Magrit for help - in a case which rapidly involves the same players as her existing one. I wasn't totally convinced by Magrit as a character - the silliness of this name didn't stop grating the entire way through. Her attitude never quite befits the professionalism of a lawyer, her intuition is relied upon too much, without any effort to at least try and confirm her hunches, and it's also unfailingly correct, which is stupid. She's also very very accepting of something altogether out of her experience. That said, she's feisty fun, fully of energy, almost witty a few times, not afraid to challenge anyone, and sparks with life throughout the text. Unfortunately being a very much plot centred story, none of the other characters really get much of a chance to shine. Magrit does at least have some reasonable interactions with her flatmates, and the arguments with her boyfriend were also well scripted.I very much enjoy the world created - the five Old Races and their elemental ties. Hopefully the future books will flesh out a bit more about why those five, and why those elements, and exactly what powers they all have - and their vulnerabilities. I was quite impressed with how Albun was introduced to the reader, and how we gradually learn about the other Old Races. There are several ways to do this and Murphy has chosen to allow us to experience them through a 'normal' human gradually realising the world isn't what she thought it was. It's a tricky style to pull off, but Murphy has done so well - it's probably the best part of the book. Apart from one or two disconcerting jumps to Albun's POV the writing was fluid and mostly gripping. The plot was well shaped without significant holes, and those details left unexplained I'm hoping will be filled in during the subsequent books. I'm glad that Murphy managed to keep the police involvement reasonable, unlike too many similar novels where the police happily hand over confidential information. Likewise other small details were mostly thought about - although I'm not too sure about the probabilities of finding a small carving amongst all the towers of a cathedral! The romance scenes are well handled, both the arguments and the making up, without the gratuitousness that frequently pervades urban fantasy. There¿s a good sense of menace from the bad guys, and a reasonable explanation of their actions, rather than the all too common, ¿hey they¿re evil¿ approach. I wasn¿t totally convinced about the plot twist at the end ¿ but again there is scope for further explanation in the next book.It's engrossing, well written and enjoyable. The only major negative is that the publisher harlequin released this e-ARC as a timelimited copy, so in two month's time I'll be unable to read this again - which is likely to put me off seeking other out the rest of this otherwise thoroughly enjoyable series.
djmng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
all around entertaining read, CE murphy is quickly becoming one of my go to authors. the herione is entertaining and the series gets better as it goes on.
RSard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Everyone has had one of those days when nothing goes right when you try to do right, and someone makes an idiot move that makes everything worse.............................I first stumbled over C E Murphy by accident: a ratty, tatty copy of "Thunderbird Falls" in the 50c box at a charity shop.Joanne Walker was strong, intelligent, afraid and determined. Unusually, she was also a cop without delusions of righteousness or authoritarianism, but one who did her best to make the city of Seattle that bit better today than yesterday. She'd made mistakes, would make others, but kept trying to walk the path between the worlds and tasks she chose and those which were chosen for her. Joanne was the sort of character you grew to wish was real enough to be the person who stepped in when you were in trouble, or who lived an apartment or two over . . . the kind of person who'd be good friend. A _good_ one, yes. Comfortable? No.I bought a new copy of the book a month later.In 'Heart Of Stone' CE Murphy has created a new, and very human, character. Magrit is no less intelligent, strong willed, or determined than Joanne Walker.A lawyer - a lawyer working for far too little in the way of money and fame but with a salting of cynicism along with the belief she CAN make things better for those she helps - Magrit finds herself trapped between her on-again-off-again cop steady-but-not-steady boyfriend and something wierd. Someone unthinkable. She looks past the skin of normality into the blood and bones of the world and finds herself fighting the same causes in a far different drama.Murders spread over two centuries in New York Central Park.Cara: homeless, with a baby.Alban: a murder suspect, a protector, an outcast, and a gargoyle.Janx: a ... broker, a middleman, an arranger who just might atrrange more for Magrit that she fears.Eliseo Desani: the sort of businesman you never trust even if you still have all your fingers after shaking hands.Just how do these connect? And how can she sort out the mess and survive the 'White Knight' impulse that got her into it in the first place?The same things that are her strengths in the courtroom - stubborness, determination, an understanding of people and how they 'work' - have a good chance of getting her killed (or making her wish she was). Magrit makes a good ally against the woes of the world - if you can resist the temptation to occasionally lift both fists to the heavens and scream 'WHY!?!!' (in a friendly/exasperated way). Still, without that walk into the lair she wouldn't be who she is, and its that willingness to go there that makes Margit the defender she is.By the time Magrit has almost worked out what she thought what is happening isn't what is actually going on, she's owing people who value debts, knows too much to allow her to step away their attentions, and most importantly, 'Grit has proven herself to be too much of an amusing/skilled adversary/tool to be forgotten.She may consider her work with the Old Races finished, but somewhere, sometime, when a human lawyer or new eyes or careful words are needed, one name is going to come up.Magrit Knight. Someone to keep an eye out for in the future.Tags: fiction, urban paranormal
kingoftheicedragons on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is something different about Heart of Stone over other urban fantasy books, and I'm not sure I am quite able to put my finger on it. On one hand, Heart of Stone is a quick read, and it kept my interest going. It seems to be sort of shallow, almost like a TV show or even a movie, and not going any deeper than that concept. On the other hand, it seems to flow, and it's easy to see this book play out in my mind as I'm reading it, almost as seamlessly as it would if I were watching it on the screen. And while it seems shallow and almost fluff in nature compared to some urban fantasy, you can really get into the characters, unlike some books where you can never truly get into the characters.There are five of the Old Races in this universe , which could be our own, and they stem from legend: Djinn, Dragons, Gargoyles, Selkies, and Vampires. Others, such as the yeti and the syrens, have died off. At times, I found myself thinking that the dialogue seemed forced and fake, that people would talk like that outside of movies and TV, and I'm not quite sure the author did any research regarding legal aid or law enforcement seem real, but why let things like reality get in the way of a good story, right? There are two types of authors--those who believe that research is a necessary major component of the writing process and those who just put pen to paper and start writing. C. E. Murphy is among the latter. I will disagree with the complaint that the beginning of the book starts off slow. It actually starts off a lot quicker than a lot of other books that I have read lately, with Margrit coming face to face with Alban in the first couple of pages, and then she continues to run into him. However, it does begin to move a lot faster--along the lines of an action movie fast--as you reach the middle of the book. It's here where I started to exceed my self-imposed goal of reading (I try to read 10% of a book a day--it's not much, but with limited time to read, 10% is a vast improvement from what I used to do). It also keeps you guessing as to who is behind the killings of the women in the park, and you're just not quite sure until the close of the book as to who the killer is.There are quite a few threads that are left unresolved at the close of the book, which presumably will be dealt with in the second book--among these unresolved threads is one of the main instigators as to why Margrit got involved with the Old Races to begin with. I'm still uncommitted if I will pick up the second book of this series or not. On one hand, the book did keep me turning the pages, and it did set up a compelling alternate universe with the Old Races, and it is far enough removed from other urban fantasy books to avoid being a cookie-cutter series (including having romance that doesn't interfere with the story telling), but on the other hand, I don't know if I really found myself immersed enough in this universe to want to keep reading it.
jhalligan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be surprisingly enjoyable. I am a relatively recent fan of urban fantasy, but I found this to be a unique take on the subject, with a cohesive fantasy world and an interesting set of paranormal characters. The writing flowed very well and I finished the entire novel in a single evening. I thought Margrit was an entertaining main character, although very abrasive at times, and I occasionally wanted to smack her. I also liked very much the character of Alban, and enjoyed the look at characters not often considered in tradition fantasies. Also, even though the book is published by Harlequin, the romance aspect of the book is far from paramount; it is important to the plot, but does not drive it to the exclusion of all other aspects of the story; in fact, it is not even completely resolved at the end. I would complain that the end of the story seems a bit rushed, but other than that, I enjoyed the story. All in all, I would definitely recommend Heart of Stone and will await the next story.
willowsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I have found to be typical for author C.E. Murphy, I found myself genuinely liking her heroine, Margrit. She is quirky, spunky, and admirable self-reliant (or at least tiers to be!) in a world that quickly reveals itself to be much stranger than she had ever expected. I enjoyed Murphy's take on the hidden-world-alongside-ours paranormal tale; the Old Ones were very interesting. Also, the relationships in the book were quite tangled and realistically flawed--I very much enjoyed this, and will be checking out the rest of this series.
lalawe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A particularly fun twist on the urban fantasy / romance genre. I know every other reviewer has mentioned this, but it was refreshing to read about something other than vampires or werewolves. Having been a huge fan of the Gargoyles cartoon when I was younger, I was particularly pleased that a gargoyle was the hero.Margrit is ballsy, brash, and her tendency to rush into situations without thinking left me alternatively amused and annoyed. I found her room mates a little odd, but the rest of the secondary characters were very well fleshed out.I like the way her relationship with Alban developed slowly; too many romances in this genre seem to to just throw the pair together without giving them a chance to actually fall for each other, and sometimes the journey is much more interesting than the destination.I was surprised to find out that the rest of the series was already available, and I guess my best recommendation is that I'm already searching out the rest of the series.
Ging on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Heart of Stone falls within the murky realm of "urban" or "dark" fantasy, with romantic attachments abound. At least here we're saved the more standard "normal person falls for really quite nice vampire" faire. Instead Murphy provides Margrit with a gargoyle (of all things) to come up against.Margrit is a pleasant enough character, prone to doing things that many people would view as foolhardy - it's a bit of a shame that it takes forever for these foolhardy acts to lead up to anything. You'll spend a lot of this book wishing for something interesting to happen and even when it does, it's something of a let down.The storytelling is interesting and the characters pleasant enough, but there's not really enough here to capture the interest for very long, especially with the longer than required build up and background presentation.
GoldLeaf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pros:- fun, sassy heroine - gotta love a ballsy human girl holding her own with the beasts.- dragons and djinn, vampires and gargoyles, and selkies - oh my!- wonderful character development- hero is surprisingly sympathetic old world gentlemanCONS:- holy moly, did it really take over 200 pages for anything to really happen?- it's worth saying twice, the snail's pace of this book is painful, especially at the beginning.- too much talking, not enough action - guess that's the price of a lawyer protagonist.- end is rather unsatisfying - the only fast part of the book - seriously that's the most interesting part, go on and run with it.Overall, I give this book my tentative recommendation for a lazy day read. It is NOT a page turner, but a decent story with likable characters. If the author shaved off 100 or more pages of useless wandering and dialogue, this could have been 4+ stars.- some truly enjoyable supporting cast characters -roguish mobster dragons and underground lady pirates, anyone?