Series: Charlie Madigan, book #3
Paperback: 336 pages
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Source: Purchased copy
To save her sister, she must stop a silent killer...
Protecting Atlanta from the off-world criminals of Underground is tough enough, but now Detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner, Hank, learn that the addicts of the offworld drug ash have begun taking their own lives. Ash makes humans the perfect vessels for possession, and something or someone is leading them to their deaths. Charlie is desperate to save her addicted sister, Bryn, from a similar fate.
As New Year’s Eve approaches and time runs out, Charlie makes a deadly bargain with an ancient race of beings and embarks on a dangerous journey into hellish Charbydon with Hank and the Revenant Rex to save Bryn and make it back before it’s too late. Only, for one of them, coming home means facing a fate worse than death...
Halle-freakin-lujah! Thank you book gods for finally bestowing upon me a story I could thoroughly enjoy from start to finish. It has been MONTHS since the last time I was truly smitten with a book, and I was starting to feel more than a little frustrated.
Listen, The Hour of Dust and Ashes certainly isn't perfect, but what it does well, it does really well, and it sure is a lot of fun to read. I finished this book in pretty much one sitting. And that's saying something because lately I've been reading books at a pace equivalent to an elderly snail with narcolepsy trying to trek up a really steep incline.
What I love the most about this series and especially this 3rd installment is the nonstop, fast-paced action. Danger, conflict, and all sorts of complications await the characters at every turn. Charlie in particular gets put through the wringer over & over again. Near death experiences have become regular occurrences in her life, and she's repeatedly forced to make some really tough and heart-wrenching decisions.
Charlie is a flawed character, that's for sure. She's stubborn like a mule, hot-tempered, and a bit recklessly impulsive. More often than not, she runs head first into dangerous situations without fully thinking things through. Normally this would totally annoy me about a protagonist who is supposed to be a cop, but the fact that the driving force behind Charlie's behaviors & choices is her passionate & unwavering determination to protect those around her at any cost makes those imperfect aspects of her characterization wholly endearing (at least to me).
Another thing I really loved about this book was the further exploration & development of Charlie's relationship with her siren partner, Hank. I will say upfront that I am a sucker for the partners-turned-lovers romance trope. The bond that develops between partners who work together in dangerous circumstances can be very strong...it has to be. Partners have to rely on each other's instincts & skills. They also need to be able to read each other and trust one another with their lives. Throw in some crackling chemistry and steamy sexual tension, and you've got yourself a romance gold mine. On top of that, there's the ever exciting forbidden love aspect, since romantic relations between partners in any kind of law enforcement tend to be frowned upon if not outright prohibited.
Needless to say, I was completely on board with the possibility of a Charlie and Hank romance from the very start of the series, but I did feel that it initially came off as somewhat rushed. This was primarily due to the fact that in the 1st book Charlie & Hank had limited (mostly work related) interactions with each other. Readers were told that they were good partners and best friends, but weren't really shown it until halfway through the 2nd book when romantic sparks suddenly began to fly between the two.
Fortunately, that issue was remedied in The Hour of Dust and Ashes. This time around, we actually get to see how close they've grown as friends, how well they know & understand each other, and how deeply they care for one another. Plus, we get more insight into Hank's character, who I have always found very fascinating because of his multifaceted personality. Hank can be boyishly playful one moment and then very manly & fiercely protective the next. He can also be a shameless flirt at times, but then switch gears and become serious & guarded. The things Charlie (and we the readers) learn about his past help explain why he is the way he is and setup a really interesting storyline to be explored in the upcoming 4th book.
Now, despite being fully entertained, I did have one issue with The Hour of Dust and Ashes. As much as I loved the very descriptive & vivid writing, I did think that at times it got a bit too wordy and repetitive. I understand trying to refresh readers' memories, but the same overly-detailed explanations & summaries of past events were reused 2-3 times when they really only needed to be mentioned once (if at all). I felt that to be a little distracting & cumbersome.
Nonetheless, if you're an action junkie like me and a fan of Urban Fantasy, then I would definitely recommend giving this series a try. It's full of intriguing & unique characters, and I think that the story keeps getting better and more exciting with each new installment.