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Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian Series #1)

Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian Series #1)

4.4 150
by Diana Rowland

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Cop and conjurer of demons, she's a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill....

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial


Cop and conjurer of demons, she's a woman in danger of losing control—to a power that could kill....

Why me? Why now? That’s what Beaulac, Louisiana, detective Kara Gillian was asking herself when an angelic creature named Rhyzkahl unexpectedly appeared during a routine summoning. Kara was hoping to use her occult skills to catch a serial killer, but never had she conjured anything like this unearthly beautiful and unspeakably powerful being whose very touch set off exquisite new dimensions of pleasure. But can she enlist his aid in helping her stop a killer who’s already claimed the lives—and souls—of thirteen people? And should she? The Symbol Man is a nightmare that the city thought had ended three years ago. Now he’s back for an encore and leaving every indication on the flesh of his victims that he, too, is well versed in demonic lore.

Kara may be the only cop on Beaulac’s small force able to stop the killer, but it is her first homicide case. Yet with Rhyzkahl haunting her dreams, and a handsome yet disapproving FBI agent dogging her waking footsteps, she may be in way over her head...

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

A demonic serial killer is on the prowl in Beaulac, Louisiana, and psychic detective Kara Gillian is determined to stop him. Kara's good intentions hit a detour, however, with the arrival of an angelic, sensuous creature named Rhyzkahl. Torn between the exquisite pleasures of the heavenly newcomer's touch and her obligation to find the killer, she discovers that alluring attractions can lead you ever deeper into mortal danger. Sexy paranormal suspense.
From the Publisher
Mark of the Demon is a nifty combination of police procedural and urban fantasy. Not too many detectives summon demons in their basement for the fun of it, but Kara Gillian is not your average law enforcement officer. In the course of Rowland’s first book, Kara learns a lot about demons, her past, and above all, herself.”—Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of From Dead to Worse

“Rowland spins a tale that is riveting, suspenseful, and deliciously sexy. With a unique take on demons, and with one of the most terrifying serial killers ever, Mark of the Demon will keep you up late at night turning pages.”—Jenna Black, author of Speak of the Devil

Mark of the Demon is a fascinating mixture of a hard-boiled police procedural and gritty yet other-worldly urban fantasy. Diana Rowland’s professional background as a both street cop and forensic assistant not only shows through but gives the book a realism sadly lacking in all too many urban fantasy “crime” novels.”—L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of the Saga of Recluce

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Kara Gillian Series , #1
Sold by:
Random House
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File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I could hear the intruder breaking into my house.

Unfortunately, it was in the same instant that the demon appeared before me.

The sound of shattering glass upstairs disrupted my focus for only a fraction of a second, but it was enough for the arcane portal to shift from my control and leap away from me like an untethered water hose. I made a frantic grasp at the portal, cold sweat breaking out under my arms as I struggled to wrench the power back into place. My heart slammed in my chest as I fought the uncontrolled energy, seizing each strand to bind and anchor it. My technique was raw and inelegant, but I didn't give a crap. I was only interested in surviving, not in how pretty it looked.

It felt like an eternity, but it was merely several frenzied seconds before I had the wildly fluctuating potencies settled and calmed. I cautiously loosened my hold as I took several deep, ragged breaths, struggling to slow the mad galloping of my pulse. That had been far too close for my peace of mind. If that loss of focus had come just a few -seconds earlier, I most likely would have been ripped apart—either by the maelstrom of the arcane portal I'd opened in the basement of my house or by the claws of the demon I'd just summoned through that portal.

I exhaled a shuddering breath, finally releasing my hold on the portal as I looked with no small amount of triumph at the massive demon on one knee before me, his head lowered and his wings tucked along his back. He had remained utterly still throughout my battle with the portal, and I silently thanked whatever powers existed that I had already sealed the terms with him before losing control. I could feel a grin spread across my face. I'd done it. I had summoned a reyza, the highest of the twelve levels of demons.

I was officially a -full—fledged summoner.

The sharp crack of more glass breaking spoiled my reverie. My grin shifted to a scowl. A burglar. Just great. If I went upstairs to deal with the idiot, I would have to abandon my ulterior motive for summoning the demon. And summoning a reyza was worth more than a few wordly possessions. Besides, my wordly possessions weren't worth very much.

But the demon snapped his head up at the sound. "Some-one intrudes on your demesne," he growled, deep voice res-onating powerfully through the basement. Before I could take a breath to give a response or command, the demon bounded up the heavy wooden stairs of my basement, bursting through the door that exited into the main hallway of my house.

"Son of a bitch!" I swiftly anchored the potency that I hadn't yet grounded. Well, so much for that plan. My legs shook as I staggered up the stairs after the demon, and I snarled at the fatigue that slowed me down. I was used to feeling somewhat drained after a summoning, but this was more than I'd expected.

I heard a panicked shriek coming from the front of my house and I took off in that direction, forcing my wobbly legs to move. Okay, I managed to summon him. Now can I control him? The shriek of terror abruptly spiraled upward as I lurched down the hall.

"Kehlirik! No harm!" I shouted, commanding the demon with my voice even as I exerted mental pressure on the arcane bindings.

I rounded the corner to the living room, panting for breath and grateful that my house was "cozy" instead of palatial. I wasn't sure if I could have made it much farther without falling on my face. I made a quick mental note: Get more rest before summoning a -twelfth—level demon!

The demon snarled and turned to me, holding a -rail—thin, gibbering man by the collar and looking insanely incongruous against the muted -sage—green walls and cherrywood furniture in my living room. One wingtip brushed the computer on my desk, and I resisted the urge to grab that wing and yank him away. Probably not a good idea when I still wasn't certain if the demon would abide by my will.

"You should let me slay him, summoner," the demon said in a deep voice that sounded like rolling boulders. He held his captive dangling above the floor with no apparent effort and no strain showing in his heavily muscled body. He towered over me, his head topping mine by several feet, with leathery wings the color of burnished copper extending several more feet beyond that. In a house with -eight—foot ceilings, the demon would have been forced to crouch awkwardly and tuck in his wings in order to fit. For-tunately for him, my -Acadian—style house had the traditional -fifteen—foot ceilings designed for the subtropical climate of south Louisiana, where high ceilings helped keep houses cool.

I took a deep, steadying breath. The demon wasn't resisting my control. One less thing to sweat right now. "No, Kehlirik," I said carefully. "Our justice works differently in this sphere. But I thank you for your aid." The demon's captive had ceased his shrieking, at least, now reduced to whimpering moans. I rubbed the sudden gooseflesh on my arms, still horribly unnerved at how close I'd come to disaster. Just a few seconds earlier . . . I threw off a shudder and forced my attention back to the present.

A throbbing growl came from the demon's throat. "He is a thief. Worthless. He has no honor." He crouched and dropped the man to the floor, then pinned the intruder down with one foot. He tucked his wings behind him, clasping wickedly clawed hands together in front of him. A thick, sinuous tail curled around his legs, tip twitching in indication of his mood, and a dark and spicy scent surrounded him, foreign and wild. Crouched, his head was level with mine, and I was relieved that I could stop craning my neck to speak to him. This was only the second reyza I had ever seen, and I was still shocked at how large they were.

"It is . . . different here," I said, even though I heartily agreed with the demon's assessment of his captive. "I'm going to have enough trouble explaining away his talk of winged monsters."

"If I slay him, he cannot speak of winged monsters," Kehlirik replied, with undeniable logic. Then his broad nostrils flared as he snorted, "Not that I am a monster."

I had to smile. "No, reyza. You are no monster." Though the demon was monstrous in appearance—flat nose set in a bestial face, a wide mouth accented with curved fangs, and a thick ridge crest that swept back over his head and down his spine—I knew far too well that he was anything but a monster. "But it would be more difficult to explain a dead body," I continued. "Murder is a serious offense here."

He bared his teeth, lips curling back from the wicked fangs. "No body would be found, summoner. But I will respect your desire." He inclined his head to me, then spread his wings, somehow managing not to knock any of my pictures off the shelves. I looked at him in uninhibited delight. I'd spent almost ten years studying and training, carefully guided by my mentor and aunt through the summoning rituals of each level of demon, gradually working my way up to working solo. A solo summoning of a reyza was considered "graduation," and here I was with one in my living room.

I crouched to get a look at the -wide—eyed man beneath Kehlirik's foot, unconsciously echoing the demon's posture. Pale and skinny with scraggly hair that stood out from his head, the intruder was probably in his early to mid thirties, though I knew that my estimate could be off by about a decade. Heavy drug use tended to age a person, and I could easily peg him as a meth or possibly crack user. He also had the distinct sour odor of someone who hadn't paid close attention to hygiene for quite some time, and I found myself shifting slightly closer to the reyza, whose scent was far more appealing.

"Wow, did you ever pick the wrong house tonight," I said. Then I had to laugh as a realization hit me. "Wait. I bet you're the one who broke into those two houses up the highway last week. Am I right?"

The man whimpered and shook his head, his eyes wild. "No! No, not me! I . . . I thought this was my buddy's house—"

Kehlirik snarled down at the man, causing him to yelp in terror again. "I'm not stupid," I informed my intruder. "Don't insult me again."

The man began to shake with sobs. "OhGodohGod, pplease don't let it eat me! I'll never do it again, I swear. I just needed enough to buy a rock. Oh, God!"

I shifted my regard to the demon. Kehlirik rumbled low in his throat, returning my gaze with eyes full of intelligence and cunning. I was ridiculously tempted to screw with my burglar and ask the demon if he was hungry, but I wasn't completely sure that Kehlirik would realize I was kidding. I was fairly positive that demons had no taste for human flesh, but it was probably best to not test the issue. There were plenty of unknowns when it came to demons.

I stood, shaking a slight cramp out of my leg. I really couldn't allow the demon to kill him. The guy was a drug addict and probably had a rap sheet a mile long, but I doubted that any of his offenses were of the capital variety—most likely nothing more than theft to support his habit. Besides, I was supposed to be one of the good guys.

Oh, well. There was no doubt that he was going to babble about what he saw. I would just have to trust that no one would believe any ravings he might have about winged monsters.

Besides, it was his own damn fault that he'd picked my house to break into, on a night that I'd summoned a demon.

A deliciously wicked compromise occurred to me. "Reyza, I do not wish this one slain, but perhaps you could do me a service."

The demon's eyes glowed a ruddy orange in the dim light of my living room. "Name your desire, summoner."

With effort, I kept my face composed. "I would have him punished for his intrusion, yet he must be returned to me physically unharmed."

The demon inclined his head gravely, but I was fairly sure I could see amusement in his eyes. "It will be done, summoner."

I barely had time to step out of the demon's way before he snatched up the pathetic man and bounded out the front door. I followed, pausing just long enough to grab my cell phone and handcuffs off my desk. I exited onto my porch just in time to see Kehlirik leap into the air with my erstwhile intruder firmly grasped in clawed hands.

I let out a snicker and sat on the front step. I listened as the panicked screams faded into the night sky, then dialed the number for the St. Long Parish Sheriff's Office.

"Hi, this is Detective Kara Gillian with the PD," I said when the dispatcher answered. "Could you please send a patrol unit to my home address? I have a -ten—fifteen on a 62R here." A -10—15 was an arrest, and a 62R was a burglary. Though I worked for the Beaulac Police Department, I lived outside the city limits, which meant that if something criminal happened at my house, it was sheriff's office jurisdiction.

"A 62R . . . Kara, someone broke into your house? Way out there?"

I recognized the woman's voice as a dispatcher who'd previously worked with the PD. Slightly pudgy with harshly dyed red hair, but I couldn't remember the woman's name to save my life. "Yeah, but all he managed to do was break a window by the door."

The dispatcher laughed. "Bad choice of houses!"

You have no idea, I thought. "No kidding," I said instead. "Good thing the noise woke me up."

"All right, I'll get a unit out there."

I set the phone down and clasped my hands lightly around my knees, looking up at the moon that shone full through the barest sheen of clouds. A languid breeze twined through the dark trees, rustling needles and bringing a deep, rich scent of earth and pine to me. I hugged myself against the slight chill, listening to the faint buzz of a mosquito and the song of a nearby cricket. A satisfied peace stole through me, an -almost—Pavlovian response to my environment. I'd lived in this house my entire life—with the exception of one terrible month after my father was killed by a drunk driver. I was eleven and had been placed in foster care until my aunt Tessa could return from Japan to take over as my legal guardian. My mother had passed away three years before that, from ovarian cancer that had gone undetected until it was far too late, and there were no other relatives—or even close friends—to take me in, a fact that had not pleased my aunt at the time, especially since the one time she'd met me before I'd been in diapers. But she'd done what she could to lessen the upheaval for me, despite her reluctance to take on the enormous responsibility of raising a preteen kid. She'd moved into this house with me instead of yanking me out of the only home I'd ever known, knowing that in time I would find more comfort than grief here.

I was nearly thirty now and finally beginning to realize just how important that comfort was to me. I loved it out here, far from town and other houses. I lived on a -seldom—traveled highway, my driveway was long and winding, and the nearest neighbor was well over a mile away.

It was the perfect house for someone who required privacy.

And it wasn't until I was fifteen that I'd learned my aunt's ulterior motive for the decision to raise me in this house. My aunt Tessa was a summoner of demons, and the basement of this house was an ideal place for a summoning chamber.

A few minutes later, the demon swooped down to land neatly in front of me, dangling his -ashen—faced prisoner by one ankle. "I believe he is suitably cowed."

Too bad I couldn't give this treatment to all my arrestees. We'd probably have fewer repeat offenders, I thought as I handcuffed the unresisting man. I left him whimpering softly on the porch with his hands cuffed behind his back, then returned my attention to the demon. "My thanks again, Kehlirik."

The demon slowly sank into a crouch. "Summoner, this was the first time you called a reyza unaided, yes?"

I gave a wary nod. Had I screwed something up?

He snorted, flaring his nostrils. "I did not think that you called me for the sole purpose of thwarting an intrusion. Had you another desire for this summoning?"

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Diana Rowland has lived her entire life below the Mason-Dixon line, uses "y'all" for second-person-plural, and otherwise has no southern accent (in her opinion.) She attended college at Georgia Tech where she earned a BS in Applied Mathematics, and after graduation forgot everything about higher math as quickly as possible.

She has worked as a bartender, a blackjack dealer, a pit boss, a street cop, a detective, a computer forensics specialist, a crime scene investigator, and a morgue assistant, which means that she’s seen more than her share of what humans can do to each other and to themselves. She won the marksmanship award in her Police Academy class, has a black belt in Hapkido, has handled numerous dead bodies in various states of decomposition, and can’t rollerblade to save her life.

From the Paperback edition.

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Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 150 reviews.
CarolynC More than 1 year ago
This book was so entertaining and fascinating! What a great read - I was bummed when it was over. Charlaine Harris describes Mark of the Demon as a cross between a police procedural and an urban fantasy, and I think that's apt. Main character Kara Gillian is a newbie police detective by day, reclusive demon summoner on certain nights. Much to the dismay of the other detectives, she's been assigned to lead big case--a serial killer! ** 1. Interesting & realistic details** I enjoy learning new things and getting nerdy little details in books. Rowland spent time as a cop, a crime scene investigator and even in forensics, so she really delivers - not on the dry details, but the way real people behave in that world. I loved getting the view of a smart, sensitive woman making it in a male dominated profession, how the different people work a crime scene, the way the cops kid each other, the little things they know about each other, autopsy room biz and more. ** 2. The odd involvement of a comic book artist and his work in the plot ** I won't say much about this, except it was cool. And whenever I thought I had the relationship of the comic and the comic artist to the plot figured out, I was wrong. ** 3. Excellent hero/subtle romance balance ** Some people found this book to be a love triangle, some feel it's clearly not a love triangle, and I'm in the 'not a love triangle' category. I felt there was one appropriate hero, and he's evolved through the book in a way that really satisfies me, and also makes me look forward to more from this pair. ** 4. Demon world ** Again, great details. The whole demon thing was well thought out, but not overly labored. One little detail I thought was so charming - Rhysel, a minor, part-animal demon Kara frequently summons, enjoys Barq's root beer as an offering. ** 5. Clothes ** I love the way clothes make Kara feel real and even vulnerable. For example, one time cops come to her home and see her in her demon summoning outfit, and they think she's in her pajamas, and actually, her summoning outfit is sort of like simple silk pajamas. (She doesn't get into the "whole flowing robes thing.") At another point Kara is feeling vulnerable about the investigation and getting all this push-back from male detectives and handsome Fed Ryan, so she puts on a spiffy-looking detective outfit instead of going with her usual casual look. The highly professional suit is a kind of armor against the flak she's getting, but she also looks good in it. ** 6. Villain backstory ** There's a whole villain backstory, and I rather enjoyed how it made sense when you got to the end. In retrospect, I enjoyed ruminating on his it lined up with the morality/amorality of the demon world. Rowland's next comes out next spring. I can't wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently found these books and have started reading one after another. I find the characters very interesting and the stories fresh with each book. Mrs. Rowland has written a great leading character in Kara Gillian and has made her likeable, relatable, and completely strange all at the same time. New characters are added along the way that all bring something new and refreshing to the table. I highly recommend this series and look forward to reading more.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On her first homicide case, Beualac police detective Kara Gillian needs help capturing a serial killer who has murdered thirteen taking their souls with him. Instead of other cops, she uses her inherited occult skills as a demon summoner to conjuror up a minor demon to help her stop the Symbol Man. However, the mage is stunned when her ritual brings her demon lord Rhyzkahl. At the next murder scene the wastewater plant, Kara senses a trace of magic, but before she can follow up, she is stunned when FBI Agent Ryan Kristoff arrives. She needs his help, but also fears the price she will pay to bring in a killer thought dead three years ago; as Kara knows Ryan's touch burns her soul. This romantic police procedural fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring two fascinating lead characters who each understands catching the Symbol Man comes before their personal desires. The investigation is top rate as paranormal clues are as important to solving the case as the mundane (poor choice of words with what happens to the victims). Sub-genre fans will welcome Diana Rowland into the fold as the author brings a fascinating twist to forensic science and police work with the exhilarating magic murder mystery MARK OF THE DEMON. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mark of the Demon is a stunning display of Diana Rowland’s in depth knowledge of law enforcement, the psychology of the criminal mind, and the decomposition of bodies. The novel is rife with details, twists in the plot, and believable characters. I will definitely be picking up the next one in the series. *Originally posted on goodreads
Wendy33 More than 1 year ago
This is Ms. Rowland's debut book and well, I LOVE IT. For being a first book, it's highly well-written. The characters are wonderful, the plot is tightly-focused and I'm so looking forward to the following book.
LilyElementBookReviews 10 months ago
Mark of the Demon is book one in the Kara Gillian series. I've been wanting to try this series out for quite awhile now and finally got around to it! I tend to love Urban Fantasy books with the leading lady as a cop and this one worked fairly well for me. Kara Gillian is a detective at the Beaulac (Louisiana) police department. She's not only a cop, she also conjures demons in her spare time. When a serial killer dubbed the Symbol Man killer seems to be back after a few years she's put as the lead detective on the investigation. This is where I got slightly annoyed, she's coined the "resident expert" even though she's only read the case files a few weeks prior. It's mentioned enough that it grated on my nerves since anyone that read the files would be just as much of an "expert" as she was. I will say she has more experience than the others even though she's new to homicide because of her conjuring background. Though no one actually knows about that side of her so the premise was fairly weak in that department. Anyway, Kara's finding runes on the bodies that no one else can see, and with the help of a demon lord she accidently conjured as well as an FBI agent on her task force she can hopefully puzzle it out before the killer murders more people. Mark of the Demon left me feeling slightly rocky on the series just based on this novel. Since it is just the first book though I can see it has a lot of potential and I will read book two just to see where the series goes. Kara's character winds up going through a lot and I was really intrigued on the demon hierarchy. I'm hoping the demons are explained even further in the next installment. All in all, I'd say if you're a fan of Urban Fantasy novels with demons you'd probably enjoy this series, though maybe grab it from the library just in case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am utterly satiated by this series. The character development, world building, and relationship progressions are well written and believable. I can't wait for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was so interesting! As a CCJ major I loved the detective aspect and the new twist on demons and summoners! Bought the next one as soon as I finished the 1st.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 REVIEW:  This book took me a little bit to get into.  I am not sure what I was expecting but after listening to Diana’s White Trash Zombie I guess I expected a little more snark and humor.  But Kara is very different then Angel.  As the story when on I started to like Kara.  I started enjoying her view on the world and how a summoner sees things.   I honestly took me until the end of the book to decided if I like the Demon Lord and the FBI agent in Kara’s life.  Let’s say that I really like one when we first met him, then I hated him, then I kinda liked him.  The other I didn’t like at all until the end of the book.  You will have to read/listen to and see if you can figure out which is which.  The narrator was not my most favorite but she did a pretty good job.  I will say that Rhyzkahl’s voice was a little creepy, but he is a Demon Lord.  So I guess that is okay.   Even though this was a slow start for me I am very much looking forward to Kara, Ryan & Rhyzkahl’s next adventure.  Disclaimer:  This review is my own opinion and not a paid review. Listened to via purchase on Audible
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Ladydee2k More than 1 year ago
Gotta love a story that starts with the main character summoning a demon who then teaches a would be burgler to beware of the house he's targetted! I loved the twist and turns. It can be a little slow at times but makes up for it overall. Great story and definitely leaves you wanting to continue reading at the end.
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AnnHoward More than 1 year ago
I just found this series and it was well worth the finding. Each book has a mystery, each builds a romantic story line, and ties together an overarching story. Really fun to read, and the romance---wow---hot, hot. No spoliers from me BUT you won't hear the word "beg" again without thinking of a certain dark command. { have to read Book Two for that scene]. I will be watching with determined effort for the next Kara book.....oh, please do let it be before Jan 2013!
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cherikeeusa More than 1 year ago
Get it. Read it. This new author did it up right. Her characters are interesting and not totally stupid. The plot moves...really moves! The barely controlled chaos that is Kara Gillian's world allows no respite. I love that!! The part I didn't love? In an attempt to make each book a standalone Diana Rowland becomes repetitive - and I mean in an almost word for word way! Ugh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago