Sunday, April 5, 2009

Blue Diablo Book Review *Ann Aguirre*

One of my biggest finds last year was Ann Aguirre. She has become one of my favorite authors. I admit that I may have a possible fan girl crush on her. Her imagination, world building and characters really take the reader on an incredible journey. Ann is one of the authors responsible for opening my mind to many other possibilities with the books I read.

When I heard she was working on a new series, very different from her popular science fiction one, I was automatically on board. Blue Diablo is the first book in this new series about Corine Solomon who has the gift as a handler, where she touches something someone owns and will have visions about that person. Corine is an everyday average person, just like you and me. She is trying to stay under the radar because her ability is both a blessing and a curse.

Ann has this wonderful talent at writing characters you can sympathize with. Corine is one of them as a woman who is on the run from her past. She wishes to build a life where she will feel safe. Unfortunately that is not in the cards for Corine. Over a year ago she walked out on her lover Chance and ran for the hills, or rather to Mexico City where she opened a pawn shop. I find this a bit ironic seeing that these items have a past because of their owners who have sold them. Corine lives everyday on the edge waiting for someone to find her, specifically Chance, and pull her back into the life that almost killed her. Then one day Chance finds her and she knows her almost idyllic life is over.

Corine doesn’t know Chance’s real name. How’s that for trust? Chance is a bit shady. He is loan shark and does favors for people where he gets paid. He was also a type of manager for Corine where he used her and her gift at foretelling much like a circus sideshow. Corine would help find missing people, but always for a price. For awhile Corine and Chance were happy. Chance is that seductive type of guy a woman would do anything for and Corine fell for him hard. But the pressure was too much for Corine to handle. Corine is still not over Chance and he knows it. But he needs Corine to help him. His mother Min has gone missing and Chance thinks she was taken. He is worried sick and knows Corine is the only one who can help him. Because Corine likes Chance’s mother and can see Chance has a deep love for his mama, she decides to help him even though she knows Chance may try and seduce her back and into the world she left behind. Also Chance has something else up his sleeve. He is much like the devil who offers Eve the apple. He may be able to find the people who killed Corine’s mother when she was a little girl. The one thing Corine wants is revenge and Chance knows it. So with that prize dangling over her head, off she goes with Chance into the unknown.

Chance and Corine are not alone on this dangerous journey. They are surrounded by a cast of characters that will help them. They meet Jesse Saldana, the investigating officer on Min's case. Jesse also has an ability like Corine. He is an empath and wants to become Corine’s mentor. He wouldn’t mind giving Corine a hand in other ways. He finds Corine attractive and she doesn't think he shabby either. But then there is Chance who she is still not completely over. Jesse is not all that innocent either and the people he knows may have something to do with Min’s disappearance. Chance puts a great deal of trust in Jesus Maria Ortiz Obregon, nickname Chuch and his wife Eva. Chuch and Eva have a great marriage and are very protective of each other and those they care about. Chuch (who I kept wanting to call Church) is powerful in his own right. He practices with magical charms and has unlimited resources at his disposal. He uses technology and old fashioned know how to find the answers Chance and Corine need.

Corine needs all the help she can get because she and Chance are not just dealing with nasty criminals, but someone who knows how to use black magic. Min has kept secrets from her son and because of them she has placed herself in danger. Chance needs to go into the dark underbelly of Mexico where prostitution is rampant as well as those who use the supernatural for their own sick means. Chance is willing to put his life on the line for his mother and it is up to Corine to do the same for the woman who gave birth to the man she still loves but cannot be with.

Blue Diablo
is so very original and refreshing. I have to give it to Ann to writing a story with a nice balance of fantasy and mystery. This is considered an Urban Fantasy and the wonderful thing with this genre is that there are so many levels to it. I believe Ann has invented a whole new type of Urban Fantasy with Blue Diablo. I am calling it now and I say this is an Urban Fantasy Noir. The atmosphere is very much like a police procedural just like the ones you watch on television such as Law and Order or CSI. Ann has touched upon something that I don’t think has been done that often.

Even though the main protagonist is Corine, Ann gives the reader a nice balance with her whole cast. This is truly an ensemble piece. Even though Blue Diablo is from Corine’s point of view, all the other important characters are given equal screen time. Every time Corine is on the page, we also see Jesse, Chance, Chuch and Eva. These people are a great team.

The tension is thick and a bit desperate but there are moments with some laughs. There is one scene where a seance will be held to contact Jesse’s dead lover. He has to bring something that the deceased owned and could only find what he think was her diaphragm. And when his dead lover is reached, her reaction to the birth control is hilarious. It is not hers! That brought out a few chuckles.

Blue Diablo has some romantic undertones but it is very subtle. There is talk of Chance and Corine’s relationship and their feelings but it is not the most important thing. Corine is attracted to both Chance and Jesse but it seems so realistic even as they are caught in the middle of this drama of Min's whereabouts. Don’t be surprised if you are up in the air between Jesse and Chance because both men have so much to offer Corine.

As for Chance, he is a slick guy who uses guilt and emotional blackmail on Corine. I found myself sympathizing with Chance because he is hurting and he does love Corine deeply. Ann had asked if I though Chance found Corine just to use her for her ability or because he loves her. I truly believe Chance loves Corine. Time and again he tells Corine his feelings for her. He tells her she is the only one for him and no other. And I don’t see him feeding her a line just because he wants her in his bed again. The reason I find Chance to be a great guy is not only because of his love for his mother, but in another scene where he has to spend the night with Corine. He wants to just sleep beside her and keeps his socks on. Why? Because he would never have sex with his socks on. From that small statement and action I knew Chance was the real deal.

Blue Diablo is a great read for both men and women alike. This is a story that will have you hooked and has a great cinematic feeling to it. Blue Diablo on the big screen? I say yes. Ann you have shown us once again what a writer with incredible talent can do. Blue Diablo is going in my top 10 for 2009. (Roc)

Final Grade: A

Check out these other great Blue Diablo reviews:

The Book Smugglers

Book Thingo


Amy said...

Oh my gosh it sounds fantastic! I'll be reading this one for sure!

Ann Aguirre said...

Thanks for this amazing review! I´m so excited that you dig Corine and Chance. You totally nailed his character, btw. There´s a sweetness inside the ¨slick¨, I think, but he doesn´t often let himself show it.

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

It was the sock scene that made me go awww... Corine take him back!

MB (Leah) said...

I'm just about done with Grimspace and love it!!! I'm definitely a new fan. Diablo is right up my alley. Mystery is my favorite genre and UF noir feels like a nice blend.

Very nice review!

orannia said...

Oh Katie that was one great review, and Blue Diablo sounds fantastic! Interestingly, the one thing I picked up from the review were shades of grey...none of the characters are perfect, all have their (to borrow a word) 'shady' side :) I like!

Stacy~ said...

I can't wait to get this one. Awesome review Kate. I'm incredibly curious to see where this series will go.

Kat said...

Great review and thanks for the link love. :-) Can I just say, I totally guessed Jesse was bringing a diaphragm but that scene still cracked me up. It's interesting that you found the romance subtle because it was pretty much all I could think about when I was done with the book. (So much so that my review is pretty much dominated by Chance. *g*)

rebyj said...

Fangirl's write the best reviews!! I can't wait to get my copy!

Ann Aguirre said...

It should be coming soon. I look forward to hearing what you think.