Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: The Celestial Blues #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): paperback, e-book, audio
Book Source: Publisher
Griffin Shaw used to be a private investigator, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul—Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.
Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder—and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.
Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife…
What Nima’s talking about:
The Taken is the first book by Vicki Pettersson I’ve read. Without prior experience with this author, I had no expectations going in. I appreciate fantasy because it makes me think; it’s like exercise for my brain to willfully suspend my disbelief and embrace the world created for me on its own terms. I haven’t read a lot of urban fantasy, preferring to keep my vampires, changelings and werewolves in alternate universes, but I think it’s appropriate for religious characters like angels to cross over into contemporary scenarios.
Pettersson introduces us first to Griffin “Grif” Shaw. He’s dead. Not something I expected in the first two pages. Ok, I’m tentatively hooked. Grif is a low level angel tasked with the job of “taking” or escorting those who have died a violent death to the Everlast where their worldly worries, cares, and even bad memories are wiped away. The first chapter describes the violent death of Nicole Rockwell; she is Grif’s Take. It is during this Take that he does something against the rules and seals the fate of Nicole’s best friend, Kathryn “Kit” Craig. As punishment for what he has done, Kit is Grif’s next Take. We further discover in that first chapter that Kit and Nicole have been investigating a possible prostitution ring. Having messed up already, Grif takes advantage of his punishment to investigate the circumstances of his own death and that of his beloved wife, Evie. To do this, he works to keep Kit alive and away from the untimely death his actions ensured.
The Taken is deeply philosophical in many ways, not shying away from religious topics within the context of the narrative. Various levels of angels, God, the nature of paradise, and even the host of a third which was cast out of God’s presence are all fair game. Pettersson chose to use dated stereotypes of the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) community to advance the storyline, but probably could have used any large, religious body with a hierarchical system of administration. Being relatively uncommon in mainstream literature doesn’t make them exempt from literary speculation. Catholics, Jews, and Muslims have long been fodder for the likes of Dan Brown, Orson Scott Card, Robert Heinlein—the list is extensive. It’s too bad she didn’t take on the challenge of using more current archetypes to still create something thought-provoking.
I personally like her writing style. I like her word choice and phrasing. It’s not a quick read. It’s a sit-and-chew-and-stew read. As such, after an intriguing opening chapter, the story slowed a bit for me. Main character Grif is easy to like in spite of his gruff exterior. He’s loyal, protective and likes to think things through. One of my favorite lines from him was, “What was it about this generation that they needed to be so connected? Wasn’t there something to be said for autonomy? For holding court in your own head?” The whole book is an ode to that thought. Kit, the extroverted reporter who should have been easy to like was harder. I think this is most likely because she is a hardcore Rockabilly, intentionally dressing in and embracing the 1950’s era from her home décor, the music she plays, to the car she drives. While it makes her an easy romantic match for Grif, who died in 1960, it makes it harder for the modern reader to relate to her. I have to say, however, that I laughed aloud when she described her ex-husband, “The only bone in my body he ever loved was his.”
This is more crime novel than romance. Even though there is a defined romantic element, there’s nothing fluffy about it. “Intense” is the word I would use to describe this book, including the solitary sex scene. Rest assured that if you invest your time, the book does have a happy ending after a horrific climax. Many questions are left open for books in the series to come. I’ll be curious to see if Pettersson picks up again with Grif and Kit or moves on to focus on a new set of characters.
Liked it, but I had some issues – recommend (B)
GIVEAWAY: I have one (1) copy of The Taken to giveaway here at That’s What I’m Talking About. Thank you to the publisher, Harper Collins, for sponsoring the giveaway of Vicki Pettersson’s latest release. To enter, please leave a comment and include your email address if it is not part of your profile. Winners restricted to US mailing addresses only. Contest open until June 19, 2012 at 9:00 PM EDT. The winner will be selected from the comment entries using random.org. The prize will be mailed to the winner by the publisher.