Guilty by Association by E. A. Copen
Warning: violence and gore
Guilty by Association by E.A. Copen is the story of Judah Black, an agent for the BSI, a government agency tasked with keeping the newly out supernatural community under control. She arrives at the Paint Rock Supernatural Reservation and finds a dead werewolf in the laundromat. Hated by the local police force and viewed with suspicion by the residents of the community, Judah has a murder to solve, which is only the tip of the iceberg. Outclassed supernaturally by nearly everyone she interviews, Judah has to use her limited magick and supernatural knowledge to find a killer before things in Paint Rock get any worse.
I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan. It’s my go-to genre, but lately, female leads, especially cast in an investigative role either fall into two roles: a self-proclaimed bad-ass that falls apart and has to rely on the male lead to fix everything when things get bad, or an unlikeable, cold, hard-ass. I am happy to announce that Judah Black is none of those things. Is she stubborn and gets into situations that are way over her head? Of course, but she’s doing her job and trying to do what’s right. Has she been indoctrinated by the BSI and regards supes with suspicion? At first. But she has a good heart, and once she’s set straight on a few issues, she grows into someone that I really like. This character reminds me a lot of Mercy Thompson, one of my all-time favorite female leads in the genre and I related to her a lot more than any other character I’ve read in a while. Judah’s smart enough to not blindly trust the agency she works for, as she has a couple of her own secrets she’d rather not have the government finding out. The fact that she’s a badass agent and a mom is a cool take on the trope that I really enjoyed. Moms can save the world too, and the author does a great job of balancing Judah’s instincts as a mom against those of a female professional.
The premise of the book, supernaturals coming out to humans is a fairly common one, but I like the world that Copen creates. It’s different, because supes are ostracized and not accepted. It’s scary and sad, forcing all of the creatures into an internment camp -I mean, reservation- and testing and tracking them for any type of marriage or breeding license is beyond demeaning. But I liked it. It’s realistic. This world is not an easy place to live in for anyone be they human or not, and I can see the government not liking suddenly finding itself at the bottom of the food chain and taking the steps to ensure they don’t stay there. There’s a lot of suspicion, racism, and the segregation against the supernaturals made me feel sorry for them, and the author did a good job bringing out the humanity most of the creatures possessed to make them relatable. For those characters that were monsters, well let’s just say there are some images that will be stuck in my head for a while.
I don’t think there were any characters I didn’t like in this book as they all came to life, except maybe Zoe and even she was fleshed out. The interactions between supernaturals and humans are fascinating, though most of the time the humans cops looked like ignorant asses when they were just clueless. I enjoyed watching the werewolves deal with the discrimination in a mostly patient fashion, though all of the species reached the end of their patience at one time or another and the fireworks were fun to watch, as they revealed a lot about the more mysterious characters we only learn enough about to be fascinating.
Another thing that I found myself enjoying is that there is no romance in this novel at all. Generally with female leads, they fall for someone in the novel and at the wrong time to boot, something I never understood considering they’re in the middle of a murder investigation and should be tracking a killer, not knocking boots. Thankfully, Judah keeps things professional if friendly and I didn’t mind not having a romantic interest in the book though I have a couple favorites if the author decides to go that route later on…
I only found a handful of typos near the end of the book, and nothing that took me out of the story. The writing was pretty good and the book was plotted well and kept up the fast pace these Urban Fantasy crimes novels demand. I was unsure of the Big Bad until about 75% of the way through the novel because there were so many other subplots woven into the story. They weren’t hard to keep track of, and added extra elements to the book that kept me reading all day (I finished this book in a few hours). The author has set up this series with a fantastic beginning and has left me with quite a few questions about other supporting characters, as well as for Judah herself. What’s up with the priest? And more importantly, what is Judah Black’s real name?
My Rating: 5/5
Interested in this book? It’s up for pre-order on Amazon for $2.99 and is releasing on April 1st. When does the second book come out?
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