Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket Books
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel from Ongoing Series
Purchased by reviewer
Blurb: In book eleven of her New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin series, author Jennifer Estep continues “one of the best urban fantasy series going on the market” (Fresh Fiction).
Gin Blanco is hard-nosed, sexy, and lethal. Nicknamed “The Spider,” she’s a stone elemental assassin who brings her unique mix of magic and tact to every assignment, no matter the target.
There’s a new drug on the streets of Ashland, and its name “Burn” sums up the potent effect it has on its users. When one of her restaurant employees is threatened by dealers of the drug, Gin steps in to set things straight…
Review: Jennifer Estep world-builds with the best of the paranormal writers. And in the 11th book of this series, the story arc only gets better and the character development gets deeper.
This series is very visceral to me. Estep deftly uses the writing axiom “show not tell” in each nuanced chapter. I can see the characters in my mind. I think that Jo-Jo’s house was down the street from me in my hometown. I can smell the food, and I can feel the chill of Gin’s ice power forming in the palm of my hand. When she had a relationship in the first few books, it destroyed me when and how it ended. And when her mentor was killed, it felt like a punch in the stomach. In Ashland, the fabled Elemental city, life is rich with relationships that thrive and fail; that falter and revive. And while these books are built around plot lines of paranormal suspense, for me at the heart they are about the interplay between the people.
Gin and boyfriend Owen are now back together after being apart for several books; however, her relationship with sister Bria takes a bad turn. Their conflict has always been simmering — Bria is a cop, Gin is a criminal. Bria has always been judgmental about Gin’s job as an assassin and the ethics or lack thereof that allow her to keep it; Gin has always felt that Bria was a little too idealistic and has always feared that one day she’ll go too far and lose Bria’s love forever. Love shouldn’t feel so conditional, but it is. Especially when you’ve just found your long-lost sibling and are desperate to remain in touch with her.
Unfortunately, since Gin and Bria are both active in the criminal scene in Ashland, sometimes their worlds collide. And like with any collision, the spin out could be deadly for them both.
Beauregard Benson is a vampire drug dealer in town that’s moving a new drug called Burn, and he takes out one of Bria’s informants. An informant Bria had sworn to protect. So, she’s out for retribution and she’s taking it personally. She’s willing to use innocent bystanders as weapons in a war she could lose, taking impossible risks, and cutting everyone out of her life so that she can go after Beau.
At the same time, Gin’s not-so-very-secret secret is out — the news that she is the Spider, the famous Assassin. Ever since she took out Mab Monroe, the top mobster in town, everyone has been gunning to take her out as a way to become the new head kingpin in town. Life at the Pork Pit is a little more anxious than usual, and she and Sophia are always at the ready each morning for what the day will bring.
One night at the local community college, Gin’s at the scene of an attack on one of her employees, Catalina Vasquez, by some of Benson’s drug dealers. Stepping in to help, she incurs the wrath of Tony, a would-be drug kingpin. They later witness his ugly death at the hands of Benson, which makes them targets. A new ally steps in but before things can be contained, Bria’s single-minded quest to catch Beau puts everyone’s lives in jeopardy. Gin is captured while trying to save the day and taken to Benson’s lab. He likes to experiment, and with Gin’s elemental power on hand to work with, he decides to play mad scientist. She barely escapes but discovers the source of the new drug’s extreme power. It’s elemental, friends.
Will Gin and crew take down Benson’s empire? Will Bria and Gin ever reconcile their differences? Or is there another sinister player behind the scenes, manipulating the sister’s actions for their own benefit, using them to clear the playing field for more malevolent reasons? Is this war with Benson just a power play by a much more malignant force? Who is M.M.M.? And why is the black Audi following Gin everywhere?
This series never fails to delight me. The writing is humorous with a bite. The suspense is always taut and keeps me guessing until the last. The romance is really not a central part of the books; however, the relationships are very important. Gin is a very vulnerable yet aware character, and it’s interesting to watch her open herself up to new relationships and experiences and watch the kick-ass assassin learn lessons in love. I also like that the character’s physical skills are always strengthening and sometimes she gets beaten – she’s not a superhero. She tries her best. These are sharp, funny, and leave me wanting to read the next one NOW – and I couldn’t ask for more.