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Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations #1)

3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,157 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations

A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can't touch—crimes of magic.

My name's Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn't applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the w
Trade Paperback, 329 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Luna (first published January 1st 2010)
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Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene FrostDarkfever by Karen Marie MoningDark Lover by J.R. WardMoon Called by Patricia BriggsMagic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Best ADULT Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
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Best Urban Fantasy SERIES
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 24, 2011 Chichipio rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I liked it. It didn't blow my mind but it made me curious to read the second installment.

With other series that wouldn't be much, but after the meh feeling left by the original series, Retrievers, I started this ready to hate it. So, reverting my opinion to the point of leaving a positive feeling was a real achievement.

Bonnie is easier to like than Wren, whose shyness and pacifism, though interesting to read, were just off-putting after a while. There was a time when she said something like "if
30 November 2015: $2.99 on Kindle

I always find it hardest to write the reviews for the books that were 'okay,' but not fantastic or horrible. Those middle of the road books, with nothing that really stands out to me as either totally offensive or as beautifully brilliant. Which doesn't mean it's a bad book, not at all. There's potential here - and as I already have the second book to read I'll definitely be giving it a shot.

One of the things that I did love, immediately, is that the heroine - Bo
Sophia (FV)
Apr 30, 2010 Sophia (FV) rated it it was ok
Rating 2.5

Bonita (Bonnie) Torres is fresh out of college and aggressively job searching. She’s living in a hotel thanks to the generosity of her mentor, but is more than ready to find a job and stand on her own two feet. She is also a magic-user, also known as Talent. She, and other Talents are able to use electrical current to create magic. When she receives a mysterious phone call offering a job interview for a job she didn’t apply for, she’s suspicious but decides to go for it. The next thing
This is kind of fun, but nothing momentous. It might help if I'd read Gilman's other, linked series, I don't know. I don't know that this was good enough to encourage me to keep going when there's so much of this sort of urban fantasy out there. There were a couple of points in its favour, though: a diverse cast (one bi, one poly, one a PoC...) being the main one, for me. Though it'd have read better if we actually saw Bonnie being interested in women more: obviously not everyone who identifies ...more
Oct 02, 2013 Ian rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People whose enjoyment of a book is not contingent on it having a conclusion.
Bonnie desperately needs a job. So when she gets a mysterious call summoning her to a job interview she goes. She gets the job and becomes part of a team of magical investigators, mercenaries for hire.


They find themselves hunting a mysterious and powerful magical hit man.

Hard Magic was OK, but it was missing something.

The end.
Brad Foley
Jul 06, 2013 Brad Foley rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Interesting start to a new series.

Once upon a on a time I ate these Urban Fantsy books like candy. Now, it's like having a chocolate chip when you're really wanting a piece of chocolate cake. It tastes good but is totally unsatisfying.

The world and the magic system was well developed and interesting. The cast of characters compelling and important to the plot. However I didn't care for the fact that the entire story was in Bonnie's point of view (as is common in UF) and I missed a fully develo
Kari Sperring
Oct 21, 2011 Kari Sperring rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about a lot of modern urban fantasy, as I can find it self-indulgent and/or patronising. But this one had me hooked from the first chapter. Bonnie makes an engaging protagonist who is convincingly young without being immature, tough without being a kick-ass cliche, and sensible (a rare quality in UF heroines, alas). A strong sense of place, too, and a properly worked out relationship between modern urban society and magic, with no cheating or special snowflakes. Huge fun: f ...more
I liked it. It's a promising off-shoot of Gilman's terrific Retrievers series, but not quite as good so far. (Bonnie becomes a neighbor to Wren, although Wren is not in this book at all.)

I thought Bonnie was very likable. She legitimately felt like a recent college grad trying to figure out what to do next. She has some limitations because her Talent interferes with electronics and computers. But she has resources by way of her own determination, and help from her guardian and mentor, a rich an
Sep 14, 2011 Rhonda rated it it was amazing
I really have liked this series. Love how all the characters interact. Their is still a lot we dont know about them. Slowly builds what you know what you want to know.
Bonnie has just graduated from collage. She is living in a hotel that her mentor is paying for her. Trying to find a job but no one hires her. Her resume looks good and she gets lots of call backs but because she can not use technolgy she doesn't get hired.
Then one day she gets a message on her answering machine from a business she
May 18, 2010 Jess rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, 2010
This is the first book in a new series. It reminded me of CSI (which I don't really watch) and Law and Order Criminal Intent.

The main character in the book is named Bonnie (Bonita) Torres. She's a recent graduate and unemployed. The reason she's unemployed is because she's a Talent. In this world there are people who have the magical ability to control what is known as current (like electrical current). Some jobs don't want people with these abilities, especially a lot of tech jobs because Talen
Angela  M
Dec 17, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me almost a week to get through this book, but that is in no way a reflection on the writing. I've once again been suffering with my terrible headaches :-( But I finally got some head-ache free time to dig in, and I whipped right through it.

This book was so original and entertaining. Although there really wasn't much action, or suspense until near the end, the whole premise of the book was entertaining enough not to need it. Bonnie is thrown into this group to try to help solve crimes co
Scooper Speaks
Jan 30, 2011 Scooper Speaks rated it it was ok
Laura Anne Gilman’s newest series Paranormal Scene Investigations is a cute, out of the ordinary spin in the paranormal bookiverse. It’s set in the same world as her Retrievers series, but if this is your first foray into Gilman’s paranormal worlds you should be fine.

Hard Magic tells magic user Bonnie Torres’ story from a first person point of view. Bonnie grew up in two worlds: lonejacker and Council. Lonejackers wield magic on their own. They do what they want, when they want and are not polic
Cyn Armistead
May 21, 2010 Cyn Armistead rated it really liked it
I suppose it must be obvious to anyone who reads my reviews that I enjoy Laura Anne Gilman's writing. I've only read every one of her Retrievers series as well as every one of her short stories sold via Fictionwise (including some that I'd already read in various anthologies, but I didn't want to miss anything). I've been waiting anxiously for Hard Magic, the first in the new Paranormal Scene Investigations series, and it did not disappoint me in the least.

If you've read the Retrievers books, yo
Sep 13, 2010 Meg rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lunapome
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2010 Glenn rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
I'm not sure why this book was as highly rated as it is. While the premise is original (paranormal CSI investigating a murder), the writing is boring and the plot is not enough to drive the book. The main character, Bonnie Torres, is supposed to have a Latina exterior and Western European interior. She is also bisexual but is really only interested in men in the book. And unconvincing as a 21 year old recent college graduate. So it's a superficial showing of diversity at best. The scenes of high ...more
Emma Michaels
Aug 08, 2010 Emma Michaels rated it really liked it
I am impressed. This year seems to be full of amazing beginnings to new series and Hard Magic is no exception. Each of the characters are unique and imperfect which is something I love because it means that not only is there room for the characters to grow in future novels but they are characters I can relate to more and hopefully you will feel the same. This series is a spin-off of the Retrievers books Staying Dead, Curse the Dark, Bring it on, Burning Bridges, etc. but don’t expect a retriever ...more
Jul 09, 2014 Alison rated it liked it
This is a nice light romp through an urban fantasy landscape - if someone could call a murder mystery PI noir plot a 'light romp'.

Perhaps it is because the prose itself is quite light; it really captures the newly 20-something main character, Bonnie Torres. The plot is long in coming. There isn't even a mention of a murder (at least a non-practical joke murder) until a full third of the way in. The main focus is on Bonnie's burgeoning independence - her first job, her first apartment, etc.

I picked up this book because it had a decent score and some reviews said that it was not a paranormal romance (of which I am not a fan). One specifically said that there was only "minor sexual tension."


Any book where the protagonist has a self-described 'vagina-tightening' reaction when another character comes into the room is not allowed to be referred to has having only 'minor' sexual tension. The sexual tension is mentioned every time this one character is in the scene. And then there's
Jun 13, 2014 Carlyn rated it liked it
This is the first book in this series and after reading the description I was really excited to read it. I was a bit disappointed with the first couple of chapters as it never really grabbed me and took a really long time to pick up steam.
I will say that I am quite glad I stuck with it as I did eventually end up enjoying the premise and the story.
It took me a while to really get a feel for the characters and some of them I really feel like I still didn't know very well. Bonnie is our main charac
Nov 19, 2015 Tjfox rated it liked it
There was an awful lot of what I considered good potential in this that didn’t end up realized. After starting extremely dry and slow, with a whole lot of info dumping, things finally started actually happening at about the 40% mark. That is way too deep into a book to get things going and you are going to lose a bunch of readers if you can’t make it interesting long before then. I was very nearly one of them.

The world building here is lacking. We know that we have Talents, people with the abili
Oct 31, 2013 Diane rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this and really couldn't get into it. I heard a lot of magical terms I've heard before, like leylines and I forget what else. In spite of this familiarity I was still confused as to how the magical system and it's users worked and I found the characters bland. It never really captured me.
Aug 24, 2015 Diversireads rated it did not like it
I am always here for urban fantasy cop/private investigator stories (which is a bit surprising considering I’m not really into cop shows), but I just wasn’t here for Hard Magic. Gilman’s world isn’t that fleshed out, her writing is lazy in parts, and there’s no clear conclusion. The current or magic seems to have no limits other than leaving people a little tired. There’s no limit to how much they can use and if they run out they can just get some from the nearest electrical source. It allows th ...more
Natasha Chowdory
Oct 21, 2012 Natasha Chowdory rated it really liked it
I thought this was fun! 4 Stars for originality more so than anything else. I like the concept, and the characters are strangely likable. Definitely a welcome addition to the genre. :)
Jun 18, 2010 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Very excited about the series, I want to be a PUPI in the pack. Great characters, nice development, looking forward to the next installment.
Aug 11, 2010 Cathy rated it it was ok
Sort of lame to me. Main mystery/question not answered/resolved.
Jul 19, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
A thoroughly great read, an excellent storyline that has no trouble keeping you hooked.
I love the way the team come together, individually picked for their talents.
As their investigation progresses and they face attacks the strength and camaraderie of the group develops.
Theres plenty of amusing banter and an interesting possible attraction to the 'boss man' ? There's certainly a connection that appears to go back years so I'm intrigued to find out what the story is there !
The rest of this serie
Mar 22, 2014 Doris rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: TC Daniels
This story introduces us to a world divided into two factions: magic users and everyone else. In this world, magic users are supposed to police themselves, but like many elite groups, they enforce the rules they feel comfortable with, meting out punishment only to those it won't inconvenience them to irritate.

Enter our elite (or at least different) group of young magic users, brought together mysteriously a la Charlie's Angels. They are trained to think, to dig below the surface, and to try to
Judy  at Musings and Ramblings
I was unfamiliar with Laura Anne Gilman when I picked this audiobook up. After listening to it and doing some research, I found out that this is a spin off set in the same world as her Retrievers Series. But I really don't feel like I missed anything. The book seemed pretty self contained.

We meet Bonnie Torres, fresh out of college and looking for a job in New York City. Pickings are slim since as a user of current otherwise knows as a witch/wizard/mage, anytime that she has prolonged exposure
Paul Weimer
Jan 23, 2011 Paul Weimer rated it really liked it
I've mentioned before in previous reviews of mine that Urban fantasy is a genre that I find hit or miss. Certainly its popular, authors are doing well cranking them up, but many urban fantasy novels feel like either romance novels with not well worked out paranormal elements, or feel like they are bandwagoners trying to get in on a hot sub-genre. And, I generally like my landscapes more fantastic and bigger. But I am willing to dip into the sub-genre now and again, if for no other reason than to ...more
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By the time she was fourteen, Laura Anne Gilman knew she would be an editor, a teacher, or a writer.

By thirty, she was all three. She's a little focused that way (when not being distracted by -oooh shiny!).

After fifteen years working in NY publishing, Laura Anne became a full-time writer, with more than twenty novels under her various bylines, including the SILVER ON THE ROAD, the Nebula Award-nom
More about Laura Anne Gilman...

Other Books in the Series

Paranormal Scene Investigations (4 books)
  • Pack of Lies (Paranormal Scene Investigations #2)
  • Tricks of the Trade (Paranormal Scene Investigations, #3)
  • Dragon Justice (Paranormal Scene Investigations #4)

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“nondairy crap. I went to the counter and pulled out a mug, pouring a dose of black tarry stuff I wouldn’t feed a rat, and adding as much sugar and milk to it as I could, to try to make it palatable. Didn’t really help, but it was something to do. Sharon went back to her newspaper, and NickOne stared into space, as if he was having some in-depth conversation with space aliens. That left NickTwo and Pietr as possible conversationalists. I sat on the only remaining chair, balanced my mug of coffee on my knee, and waited. Time passed. Finally, bored out of my skull, I turned to Pietr on my left. “So why are you here?” “My parole officer said I needed to prove I’d gone on a job interview, to keep from going back to jail.” NickTwo blinked—I guess they hadn’t gotten around to that topic of conversation yet—but Pietr looked dead serious, so he was either dead serious, or a better joker than I could ever manage. Or, possibly, both. “Seriously?” NickTwo asked, his brown eyes going wide and kidlike in awe. “For serious, yes.” Then he cracked a smile, and shook his head. “Nah. But it was strongly suggested to me by persons of importance that I get a job to keep me out of trouble. So when this call came I figured, what the hell.” “I think they’d need a lot more than a job to keep you out of trouble,” NickTwo said, leaning back in his chair with a vaguely disgruntled look. Looked as though I wasn’t the only one to have pegged Pietr straightaway. He didn’t take offense—just the opposite, actually. “You’re probably right. What’s your excuse for being here?” NickTwo shrugged, his skinny arms rising in a very Gallic shrug. “I graduated, got a part-time job that pays pretty well, doesn’t eat my life…and it’s boring the hell out of me. The message I got said I’d find this of interest. So…. I’m waiting for them to interest me.” “Same here,” Sharon said, raising her head from the newspaper without even pretending that she hadn’t been eavesdropping. “I’m a paralegal. Good money, no future, boring as hell. My message told me that, if I wanted to stop wasting my life, to show up here, at this time.” She folded the newspaper and put it on the floor next to her chair. “How ’bout you, big guy?” NickOne blinked and came back to us. “Nifty.” “What?” “My teammates call me Nifty.” I mentally patted myself on the back. Teammates, yep. Point to me. And ohmahgawd and holy shit. “You’re Nifty Lawrence.” I didn’t mean for my voice to squeak, but it did anyway. I’d dated a guy in college who was totally into football, not the pros but the college games, and Nifty Lawrence was supposed to be hot enough for the first round of the draft when he graduated, which would have been last year. “Hands like a god, could catch anything on the field, including low-flying seagulls,” my ex had claimed. So why the hell was he here, instead of sweating out the coaching appraisals and counting his cash? “I am.” He looked sort of embarrassed by that fact, and tugged at the sleeve of his navy jacket as though he’d just realized he was wearing it and wondered how that happened. “And before you ask, I looked around, and decided that maybe just being good enough to go pro wasn’t reason to do it. I mean, I’m good but I didn’t love it. Getting my MBA and finding a corner office somewhere seemed smarter than spending five or ten years getting my head knocked to the turf. Only it takes money to pay for grad school, even with loans. So, I need a job, too.” My opinion of his brains went up, considerably. “So what about you?” he asked me. “Boredom, or desperation, or something else entirely?” “All of the above, I think. A whim? I was curious to see what the deal was.” I looked around, suddenly struck by a thought. “You guys all had messages—did they all say 2 p.m.?” “Yeah,” Nick said, and Nifty nodded. Sharon frowned, obviously thinking the same thing I was, but Pietr was the one who said it. “Who schedules five interviews” 1 likes
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