Scarlett is a rarity in the magical community. She is one of a handful of nulls whose unique abilities have the power to remove all traces of magic within quite a large radius. For the supernaturals of Los Angeles, Scarlett can turn both werewolves and vampires human again and can cancel out magical spells. She has managed to earn a living using her abilities as a cleaning service to the three magical communities which has enabled them to keep their existence secret to the outside world. Although not perfect, Scarlett has managed to make a life working as a null after the death of her parents when she was eighteen.
Scarlett’s life takes a big turn for the worse when a lone cop gets to the scene of the horrific murder of three vampires before she has a chance to cleanse it. As a new detective Jessie Cruz has something to prove and is determined to make his mark solving this heinous crime. What he doesn’t expect however, is to find himself in the middle of a supernatural showdown with Scarlett as his guide to the things that go bump in the night. With his movie star looks and his great dress sense Jessie is probably better suited to playing a cop in a TV show than being a cop. He decides to help Scarlett solve the case and win himself a few brownie points with his superiors at the same time. Scarlett introduces Jesse to the magical community during the investigation and explains how werewolves, vampires and witches came into existence. These scenes were perhaps the best in the book and the explanation of the evolution of the magical community was unique, well constructed and delivered in a way that it wasn’t patronizing to the reader.
Scarlett has been given just three days to solve the murder by the head vampire, Dashiell or she will find herself in the town morgue. He doesn’t care if she solves the murder or not, he just wants someone to be held responsible. Scarlett is afraid of Dashiell and searches night and day for the real killer. During the investigation we learn of Scarlett’s life before she came to Los Angeles, primarily about another null Olivia, who had mentored Scarlett following the death of her parents. Olivia had died from cancer a few years previous and Scarlett had been on her own trying to understand her powers and what she was capable of. Scarlett blames herself for her parents death which didn’t ring true in the story and to punish herself she avoided her brother and had regular one night stands with the sexy werewolf, Eli. Now Eli, I liked but Scarlett did her best to avoid him throughout the story and it wasn’t long before there was a love triangle between Scarlett, Eli and the hunky cop Jesse. Olsen sets up a fairly predictable murder mystery with a few twists along the way with quite a shocking ending….well it would have been shocking if I hadn’t already guessed that it was going to happen several chapters earlier.
While I quite liked Eli and the head witch Kirsten as characters Scarlett, Jesse and Dashiell were rather one dimensional. Scarlett had no backbone and was terrified of Dashiell despite having the ability to steal his powers and turn him into a human at fifty paces. She knew he was powerful with fingers in every pie but was still completely shocked that he knew she had a brother. Dashiell, was your typical megalomaniac vampire and Jesse, more of a latino boy scout than police detective. Olsen developed a great explanation for magical mythology but then let the story down a bit with wimpy lead characters.
I think I read this book too closely to Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate which features another null Alexia, solving crimes between vampires and werewolves. I found that I was comparing the lack of spunk of Scarlett to more feisty go getting Alexia. Overall, I enjoyed Dead Spots and I am looking forward to finding out what Olsen does with Scarlett but more importantly the mystery character who reappears on the final pages. No spoilers here! You will have to read it to find out.
I rather liked Dead Spots despite some fairly obvious flaws, mainly with the lead character Scarlett. She was extremely naive and the inevitable love triangle between the werewolf, Eli and the handsome cop Jesse was a tad unbelievable. I did however, really like the explanation as to the evolution of the three magical communities and thought it was original and well constructed. In fact, this was the best part of the book as Dead Spots was let down by a predictable plot and one dimensional characters. There was a quite a good cliff hanger (which I had already guessed) and I am hoping that book two drops the love triangle and that Olson gives Scarlett a backbone.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- Dead Spots
- Trail of the Dead (2014)
BUY YOUR COPY