Stephanie's Reviews > Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman
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Dec 06, 11

Read from December 01 to 02, 2011, read count: 1

Tricks of the Trade on Fangs, Wands & Fairy Dust



There are so many good things I want to say about this book and Laura's writing. First, it is truly intelligent. I have to look up words! I love learning new things so this is great. I'm not saying that you need a dictionary at hand but once in a while I do look something up. I think it's indicative of not writing to the Lowest Common Denominator. It's quality writing and quality Urban Fantasy with a mystery bent.

It is also one of the best thought out worlds I have come upon; with little or no discontinuity. Laura has an entire explanation for the existence of magic that is unique and so nearly plausible that it makes suspension of disbelief easy. Do you know someone who kills street lights when walking under them? They might be paranormal.

This is a second series within the Cosa Nostradamus Novels, The other series is The Retrievers. She also wrote the Vineart War Series.


One thing that I love about Laura's work is that she is expert with the backstory. With eight other books under the Cosa umbrella that's a lot of past. I think it's brilliant that includes in the fantastic and well-written prologue and the first chapters there is stuff that series fans don't yet know. It keeps that part of the book really interesting and makes me look closely at what I am reading.

Laura switches up points of view within chapters from Bonnie's first person to a more omniscient POV. The abrupt switch got a little confusing for me but made me pay better attention. This is not fluffy writing. The subject may be urban fantasy, there may be romance, there is always a mystery, but it is well-written and I can't be lazy or I miss a lot.

The characters are engaging, interesting, smart and fun. They are "Talents" or magic-wielding humans working in a world where humans have access to the knowledge of magic but many choose to ignore it. They work to get along, but sometimes they don't, but they are complementary personalities and different skill sets as necessary for the type of office and the book.

There are three main arcs: A murder, a robbery and a developing relationship based on some type of chemistry between Bonnie and her boss, Ben Venec. Ben sounds sexy as hell.

Bonnie is cute, maybe beautiful, and comfortable with her bi-sexuality, and just comfortable in her own skin. The dialogue is great. True and natural. There is some slang, but it works to make the characters so real you feel you might run into them on the street.

it's interesting that Laura Anne decided to make Bonnie bisexual and then makes very little of it. I think that is pretty classy.

As far as the mystery goes, usually I am pretty good at sussing them out. She also ties up the arcs in different places. So you get more than one climax and a little denouement in between. With this one I had the mysteries all wrong. I wasn't led the wrong way and then had a device pulled into the story, I just didn't see the end. I picked the wrong clues! The pace is well-timed; maybe a bit of a lag getting the cases going. I suspect that is more what real crime solving would be like; not a shoot-'em-up, car-chasing event, slowly moving forward until the clues reach critical mass.

I HIGHLY recommend this book and the series. If you already read the series it is an absolute MUST READ. I can't wait for the next volume! And, I plan to go back to read the Retrievers series as well. I just love these books and I am in good company—many reviewers feel the same way!

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Image by darknesschildsin via Flickr
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Luna; Original edition (November 15, 2011)
Kindle Edition: 543 KB
Print Length: 349 pages
Publisher: Luna; Original edition (December 1, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
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