A review of Old Black Magic (Robin Miller Mystery #6) by Jaye Maiman

READ JULY 2013

ONLINE SUMMARY: “From the murky bayous of New Orleans to the rat-infested subways of New York City, P.I. Robin Miller is trapped in a heartpounding race against time… and evil. A brilliant and brutal serial killer is on the loose and, with a new love unfolding, Robin has her own urgent reason to find the murderer – before he finds her.”

MY REVIEW: I read a lot of mysteries with lesbian protagonists. (See “About me ‘n’ the blog”), and Jaye Maimann is probably my second favorite writer in that sub-genre. (JM Redmann, case yer wond’rin’.) Her Robin Miller mysteries are well plotted. Robin is enjoyable to get to know, and an extremely traumatic incident in her childhood adds considerable depth to her character as the series progresses. Maimann’s writing is crisp, fast-moving, and grammatically sound.

<i>Old Black Magic</i>? Another favorite! A credible and intriguing, if grisly, mystery. Robin, as I said, is one of my favorite characters in this sub-genre. I like to separate mysteries featuring PIs (Micky Knight, Sidney Sloane, etc.) and those whose main characters are cops (Delafield, Ashton) and while that still puts her second to Redmann’s Knight, she’s still pretty high on my list.

The writing of the first few pages doesn’t quite seem like the Jaye Maiman I remembered, but, pretty soon, everything clicks and  we’re off to the races. Old Black Magic is a serial murder mystery with a bit of a Haitian vodoun thrown in for good measure.

As always with Maiman, the writing is engaging, fast-paced, and mechanically accomplished. (This was a Lambda nominee, losing out to Randye Lordon’s Father, Forgive Me, which is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.) The mystery is logical and well-plotted. The romance, as we’ve come to expect with Robin and KT, has a few obstacles to overcome. Maiman says that readers requested she bring KT back. I definitely wasn’t one of those, but, in this installment, I liked her a lot more than in the earlier books, and the ending definitely works, relationship-wise.

The killer is truly evil, on a level matching Cornwell’s Gault or Gerritsen’s Hoyt. The emotional content, which is what attracted me to lesbian fiction in the first place, is definitely “kicked up a notch.,” and there’s more than enough suspense to keep thriller fans on the edge of their seats.

The ending satisfies on all levels, as a mystery, a romance, and just a basically good reading experience. Very highly recommended. (Only one more book in the series left to read, now. Damn!)

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