SPI Files: The Gremlin Affair

Posted on December 15, 2014

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the grendel affair by lisa shearin

We’re Supernatural Protection & Investigations, known as SPI. Things that go bump in the night, the monsters you thought didn’t exist? We battle them and keep you safe. But some supernatural baddies are just too big to contain, even for us…

When I moved to New York to become a world famous journalist, I never imagined that snagging a job at a seedy tabloid would change my career path from trashy reporter to undercover agent. I’m Makenna Fraser, a Seer for SPI. I can see through any disguise, shield, or spell that a paranormal pest can come up with. I track down creatures and my partner, Ian Byrne, takes them out—usually saving my skin in the process.

Our cases are generally pretty routine, but a sickle-wielding serial killer has been prowling the city’s subway tunnels. And the murderer’s not human. The fiend in question, a descendant of Grendel—yes, that Grendel—shares his ancestor’s hatred of parties, revelry, and drunkards. And with New Year’s Eve in Times Square only two days away, we need to bag him quickly. Because if we don’t find him—and the organization behind him—by midnight, our secret’s out and everyone’s time is up.

Makenna as a character is a fun and good person to be with. She’s funny but not snarky. She grew up in Weird Sisters, North Carolina where her family was into law enforcement. There was something in town that attracted supernatural creatures, so her family’s seer ability to see through any glamour or spell came in very handy apprehending criminals who may not be entirely human. Wanting to make a difference, she left town for the Big City but the only job as a journalist she could get was at a seedy tabloid reporting (or inventing) paranormal occurrences. Because she can see supernatural creatures her stories were mostly true for a change… and this was how the SPI noticed and recruited her. In this world, the supernaturals are still in the closet. They walk among us, but the majority dare not reveal themselves to humans yet. The SPI is tasked to keep the lid on, against other sups who want to change the world order.

Given that the pay, medical and dental coverage were better Makenna grabbed the opportunity. It was not as if she was a stranger to the strange, only at SPI the stranger was so much stranger and so much more dangerous–as she later found out.

Unlike most urban fantasy heroines, Makenna has a healthy respect for authority, especially if the boss happens to be a building-high dragon. She’s very grateful for her job and is determined to become more useful to her colleagues by building up some combat skills and improving or adding to her skills as a supernatural investigator. Right now, she’s still a little awkward with a tendency for self-deprecation. She is also woefully ignorant about fighting, so she tries to improvise such as carrying a fake handgun loaded with tequila.

She does have guts, a genuine desire to help people, and an inborn talent as a seer allowing her to see through even the most elaborate illusion put up by supernatural creatures to hide among humans. This rare talent is what makes her in demand. She is the only seer in the entire New York area. Apparently, seers employed by SPI has a habit of dying in strange ways such as being sucked dry by leeches in the sewers. And with ghouls and grendels running amuck in the city, she needs all the protection she can muster.

At SPI, seers are normally not given any combat training as they are supposed to act as spotters only for a crack team of fighting veterans. But because of the rash of seer deaths, the head of SPI assigns experienced investigator Ian Byrne to keep Makenna alive. But his protectiveness seem to go beyond duty. Whether it will develop into something more romantic we shall see maybe in the second book.

The Grendel Affair is a refreshing start to a new urban fantasy series, where X-Files team up with the Men in Black as they deal with mythological creatures. The writing is light, funny and action-packed. Makenna as the reluctant heroine is endearing, and the SPI team with its diverse species interesting. Character development is a bit slow as we get little back story. The emphasis is on the action, and there is plenty of it. I suppose there will be more information about the characters as the series progresses. I am looking forward to read the story of the Russian werewolf, the dragon lady boss, and the vampire second-in-command. The author needs to flesh out Ian as well as he is coming across as a little dry for a love interest.

I’m sure there is much to Makenna and SPI than meets the eye. I hope I don’t have to wait too long before finding out.

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Posted in: fantastic