Jayne Heller was well on her way to being the prototypical slacker -- college dropout, boyfriend cheating on her, Bible Belt parents offering no support. The only person who ever supported her was Uncle Eric, who would swoop into town, give her a boost and leave again. Then he is killed and Jayne travels to Denver as Eric's sole heir.
Eric was far more than he seemed. For one, he was upper stratosphere rich. For another, he was a hunter. Of creatures like riders that take over human bodies. Especially riders under the control of Randolph Coin, a powerful member of the Invisible College seeking power. Eric also had colleagues who worked with him on various jobs, including a cadaverous old man who is a demon in the kitchen (among other things), a former priest, a scientific researcher and a fighting expert. These colleagues will come in handy, because the Invisible College killed Eric and now they're after Jayne.
Jayne and her new team take a few too many pages to go over the game plan once they determine they will have to take out Randolph Coin. It's almost like they're in hiding even though they have a self-imposed deadline to draw Coin out and kill him. But when the showdown comes, it's well worth the wait. There are spells cast, butts appropriately kicked and a well-plotted climax.
Although this is a fairly standard setup for urban paranormal action stories, Hanover has created a viable lead character in Jayne Heller. She's a young woman at the kind of crossroads that every young woman faces, just under extraordinary circumstances, and comes into her own in believable fashion. Her growth as a person and the realization that she may have extra abilities when it comes to this fighting demons thing mesh together well. The mutual attraction she and one of the team feel for each other has a conflict that is more than a Big Misunderstanding, and which can contribute to further plot twists and character development in later books. The secondary characters also are tremendously engaging. And, although it may not be feasible, it would be great to see all of them in subsequent volumes.
Hanover is particularly adept at discerning how a young heroine might respond to the circumstances thrown at her in the plot, especially considering that Hanover is Hugo-nominated Daniel Abraham. This well-crafted female protagonist should be used any time it is argued that men cannot create believable women. Unclean Spirits lays the groundwork for what could be a long-lasting, intriguing and enjoyable series.