When a big-shot antiquities dealer is found with his head severed, the case falls to NYPD Homicide detective Sara Pezzini and her partner. Sara enlists sword polisher David Kopkind, a student of Japanese history, who recognizes the killing blow of a katana. Could an ancient Japanese warrior be on the loose in New York — and if so, can even the Witchblade stop him before Sara loses her own head?
I got this book from a second-hand bookstore. Although I certainly am attracted to beautiful covers just like the next person, I do not allow myself to judge a book by its cover. If I had made a practice of this, I would have missed out on so many interesting books over the years. I would have missed out on Witchblade: Demons by Mike Baron. The weirdly proportioned comics super-heroine on the cover does not reassure readers that there is a gritty narrative inside the covers.
Second volume of a trilogy and part of the Witchblade franchise consisting of graphic novels and a TV series, Demons can be read as a stand-alone in my opinion. I am introduced to police detective Sara Pezzini who has been living for years with the Witchblade, a mystical metal that transforms into armor and weapon depending on need. She wears this artifact like a bracelet. It seems to be sentient and seems to attract the weird and supernatural. Since Sara acquired the Witchblade, she has had to deal with unusual cases one after the other.
Years ago, it chose to latch on to her, and has been protecting her ruthlessly, slaying even friends if they place Sara in danger.
This time the danger is from a samurai sword-wielding killer who decapitates his victims. The story reads like a police procedural at first. The Witchblade would only make itself felt if near danger. Clues lead to an odd assortment of suspects, including a professional sword polisher, a former NBA star, and the owner of the basketball team on which the star played.
Like any decent murder mystery, some of these clues are planted for misdirection. Here, the results are tragic.
Sara develops a relationship with one of the suspects, which I’m not sure was right for a detective in the middle of a case. A side story about a gang of troublemakers in Sara’s Brooklyn neighborhood added texture to the story, though I’m not sure that I liked the resolution. As a detective, Sara should have been able to connect dots and realized that the girl she let go with a wink was a psychopath and budding serial killer.
That’s my major trouble with this novel. The mystery was not solved through deduction: the killer just chose to reveal himself to force a confrontation.
Each of the original novels was written by a different author. I enjoyed this volume well enough but I’m not sure I would want to go through the entire Witchblade universe. If this novel were a good basis for the theme of Witchblade, then the theme would be “loss.” The lesson of every owner of the mystical device is that it is not controlled by anyone–it does the controlling.
The other authors might approach Witchblade differently as well. Demons is urban fantasy. Are the other novels written like that? The graphic novels look like they’re about a super hero or warrior cop. The Witchblade universe is interesting, but maybe not that interesting for me to look for the graphic novels. I would prefer that there is one author for one book series.