In my reading deprived mood, I got my hands on Evil Ways, the second novel in Justin Gustainis’ Quincey & Chastain Investigations series and I have to say that I think it dug me out (that and J. Frost’s At Grave’s End). The more I read, the more I kept wanting to come back to it whenever I got dragged away.
In a story that ranges from Baghdad to Los Angeles, Evil Ways sees eccentric billionaire Walter Grobius attempt to unleash a devastating magical apocalypse. Quincey Morris and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are drawn into their deadliest case yet, but from different directions. In Los Angeles, Quincey is blackmailed by the FBI into investigating a series of ritualistic child murders. In New York, Libby barely escapes an attempt on her life by assassins armed with magical weapons. Both of these threads eventually intertwine, leading the investigators to a conspiracy so vast and diabolical as to defy belief.
I have to say that I am really enjoying this series. It has just the right amount of action and suspense to keep ones attention without overloading their brain. That’s not to say that there isn’t any downtime either. It’s just that even during a slower period, there is still something going on that is crucial to the plot, but relies more on verbal communication that throwing punches. I also have to say that I love how Gustainis wraps two different plots into one without any of the central characters realizing it. He did this beautifully with Black Magic Woman and this time he it gives the characters a break and brings them together for the final showdown (sorry if that’s a spoiler).
As for the characters, they get even more interesting the more I read about them. It’s obvious that Libby and Quincy have “feelings” for each other, but I love how they are not making it a point in their lives. They are aware of it, but they don’t want to screw up what they have either. Now, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing the two of them getting together at some point, but it’s not needed. In whatever I read, there has to be some kind of relationship going on. Normally, I like for it have a romantic element, because it’s hard to find a good story with a relationship that is engaging and non-insipid to keep my attention. However, Gustainis has done that. Plus, the personalities he gives these two are fabulous. When the main characters mimics Ozzy Osbourne’s infamously crazy act during a battle to the death, that’s hilarious.
I did have one thing that bothered me a little about this series so far, but it’s mainly because it’s a highly sensitive subject with me right now. I have a 22 month old son, so reading about child murders is not something I’m all about right now. While it was mentioned in Black Magic Woman, it did seem to be brought up a little more this time around. That’s really the only hangup I have at the moment and that’s just me being overly sensitive.
Overall, I have to say that this is definitely a great read. And again, anyone who likes Jim Butcher but is looking for something a little lighter, then they really need to check out Justin Gustainis.
Black Magic Woman