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6.02.2011

Review: Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay

Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay
Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fairies
Mass Market Paperback $7.99 (400 pages, POCKET)
Ebook $7.99

Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dre-ams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death. Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.
But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a sixyear- old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her. . . .

Author Site: www.staceyjay.com


Everything I'm Looking For in Urban Fantasy(5 stars)

When terrorists hit a chemical plant the last thing they're expecting is to cause a massive mutation of the Louisiana delta's fairy population. Lesson learned a little too late for the people who call the delta home. Now the fairies have a taste for human blood and if their venom doesn't cause a massive, deadly allergic reaction it'll drive you mad. The tiny percentage of the population who are immune get stuck slogging through fairy infested swamps to deal with things the rest of folks can't. from researching the little monsters to investigating Breeze houses. Oh yeah, fairy poo and a little bleach make Breeze, a drug that rivals ecstasy for popularity.

Enter Annabelle Lee, a little lazy, at risk for a DUI most of the time and one of Donaldsonville, Louisiana's immune. When a local child is found murdered outside the iron fence that seperates D'ville from the fairy infested bayou she gets sucked into the investigation quicker than she can drain a rum and coke. As if that wasn't complicated enough her current beau, Cane Cooper, is one of the DPD cops on the case and the FBI sends in a team to aid him... a team that consists of a hard-assed female agent and her partner Hitch, Annabelle's ex.

Trying to be professional with her ex and sort out her feelings for her current boyfriend is complicated but the investigation gets even more crazy when Annabelle discovers a Breeze house out in the bayou and an arrest is made for the little girl's murder. Strange stuff keeps happening to Annabelle and if she's going to get to the bottom of this murder mystery to save the day she just might have to lay off the hooch and avoid getting dead herself.

As the great debate of paranormal romance versus urban fantasy races on it's easy to start drawing lines in the sand. I feel safe saying that Dead on the Delta is exactly what the readers on the Urban Fantasy side are looking for. It might not sound like it based on the blurb but there's no romance here. No HEA ending. No steamy smutty goodness. I love a good romance for certain but when I'm in the mood for a good mystery peppered with paranormal elements and plenty of rich world building DEAD ON THE DELTA is exactly the kind of book I am looking for.

DEAD ON THE DELTA is not about the fae, these are killer mutant fairies, think Tinkerbell with a retractable jaw and a taste for human blood. Throw in venom that is a death sentence for 19 out of 20 people and temper it with the fact that fairies can't live in colder climates and this is scarily real. The deep South cut off from the rest of the world by iron fences and still recovering from Hurricane Katrina? Yup, quite easy to buy into. Add in a murder mystery centered around the adopted daughter of a local family of wealth and status, drug dealing and a small town where folks know far to much of one another's business and this plot packs a punch.

As a reader a great, fast-paced plot is a plus but without a great protagonist backed up by a cast of memorable secondary characters I don't get pulled in. Annabelle wormed her way into my top three heroines of the genre with an ease that shocked me. She's richly flawed and annoyingly charming for it. I love her because aside from her immunity to fairy bites she's utterly human. Her relationships with Cane and Hitch are complicated by realistic issues people face. Annabelle's drinking has roots that somehow make it seem okay even as I—the child of an alcoholic—wanted to smack some sense into her. In contrast Cane and Hitch are interesting characters that we barely get to scratch the surface on. Fans of Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series will recognize a similar quality in the Annabelle/Cane relationship that we love in Allie/Zayvion. Meanwhile, as we are introduced to Hitch he's a character to love and maybe dislike a lot.

D'ville is peppered with other characters of note. In a way the town as a whole is essential to this story, taking on a personality based on the mix of people within it. From the clannish Beauchamp family and Cane's troublemaking sister to Annabelle's nosy neighbor and her gossip-mongering friend Fernando it's easy to feel right at home dropped into the iron-protected community.

What really makes this book unique among its peers is not only its strength as an Urban Fantasy gem but its freshness. Candid and unafraid Jay writes her dialog the way people really hold conversations, peppering Annabelle's storytelling with humor that may not work for everyone but gives it a flavor I personally found addicting. Between tiny stabs of side-busting hilarity and jolting action, DEAD ON THE DELTA offers something for both fans of horror—one nail-knawingly spooky scene had me hunting for a nightlight—and readers who gravitate toward the lighter side of the paranormal. Quite honestly the only real complaint I had is pretty passable... the story resolution was just a little vaguer than I would have liked but ties everything up. A little more detail on some spoilerific things I won't share wouldn't have felt out of place.

If you are a fan of Stacey Jay's young adult novels and can tolerate some potty-mouthed narration/dialog you will love DEAD ON THE DELTA. If you're new to Jay's work imagine a blend of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series and Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series with a dash of Sophie Littlefield's crime novels. Overall I think this book will appeal to both male and female readers who enjoy Urban Fantasy with little to no romantic elements and readers who enjoy non-vampire/shapeshifter paranormal themes. Definitely one of my top reads for the year.

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Notes: Bought with my own money.

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