I'm Jaz Parks. CIA assassin. Black belt. Belly dancer at the Corpus Christi Winter Festival. The last is cover for my latest mission: retrieve a vital piece of biotechnology by killing the maniac who stole it. He's Chien-Lung, an obsessive vamp who's invulnerable while wearing his armor - which is constantly.
Then there are the reavers, ancient fiends who murder innocents and eat their souls. Only I can sense them. So it's not long before they'll want me dead, dead, dead.
Jaz and the team are working undercover at a festival, keeping an eye on a Chinese circus act with very dangerous vampires. Chien-Lung has stolen a biotech armour prototype designed by Bergman which leaves the wearer invincible, and they must get it back. But Jaz is having her own problems with jealous men, disorientating dangerous hallucinations when she tries to sleep, and has to fight a deadly new enemy in the soul eating Reavers.
I like Jaz because she is feisty but still has flaws that you can relate to. Her flirty relationship with partner Vayl has part of you wishing they would hook up, while hoping that they keep this will-they-won't-they dynamic going a bit longer as it is working so well. I love Bergman, Cassandra and Cole, who each bring something good to the story. The humour in the 'I hate you, you smell' relationship with paranoid tech guy Bergman and psychic Cassandra is a real highlight. We also see a more vulnerable side to Cassandra in this book when she has a vision of her own death and is scared stiff about it. The obvious male posturing between Cole and Vayl to get the attention of Jaz is amusing as well. This book has the added advantage of a great badass Pengfei. Psycho bitch! Cole is pretty funny in his childish way and comes out with some really great lines to defuse the tension in the situations. All of the characters are so well written that you just get swept up in their experiences.
Jaz has enhanced powers but she isn't some kind of Wonder Woman. She is unsure how to use and develop her abilities and is certainly not immune to getting hurt and showing very poor judgement at times, like in the cafe where she meets Desmond. It was not the smartest thing from a CIA agent but that is part of her charm. It is important that the reader connects with her and can relate to her, which is certainly achieved by the author.
The plot races along from one situation to the next and there are plenty of action scenes. Jaz's hallucinations, the Reaver attacks, infiltrating the boat, the attempt to kill Chien-Lung at the festival and of course the all-action big finale. When you add the humour and relationship issues to the mix, you really do have an excellent urban fantasy book that ticks all the boxes. I love this series and look forward to getting stuck into book 3.