Hands of Flame
C. E. Murphy
Published 2008 409 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Margrit Knight has blood on her hands.
War has erupted among the five Old Races, and Margrit is responsible for the death that caused it. Now New York City's most unusual lawyer finds herself facing her toughest negotiation yet. And with her gargoyle lover, Alban, taken prisoner, Margrit's only allies - a dragon bitter about his fall, a vampire determined to hold his standing at any cost and a mortal detective with no idea what he's up against - have demands of their own.
Determined to rescue Alban and torn between conflicting loyalties as the battle seeps into the human world, Margrit soon realizes the only way out is through the fire.…
Hands of Flame is the third and final novel in C.E. Murphy’s Negotiator trilogy, although the author’s note at the start of the book is ambiguous about whether this is actually the last we will hear of Margrit and the Old Races. Personally I hope that the author will revisit these characters in the future because this trilogy has turned out to be fantastically good reading.
After getting off to a slow and slightly laboured start in Heart of Stone the characters develop and the excitement increases in House of Cards. The story builds to a thrilling climax in Hands of Flame - where the reader is dropped straight into the action from the first chapter and the fast-pacing then continues to very final pages of the story.
Margrit’s life has been irrevocably changed by her association with the Old Races - she has given up her job as a Legal Aid lawyer in order to become their advocate but as much as her life has been changed by the Old Races their existence has been altered by Margrit. She has challenged some of their oldest laws and even the steadfast and unchangeable gargoyles have come to realize that they must change to survive in the modern world.
Not all of the changes have been positive – gang warfare has broken out down in New York’s docks with both humans and mystical beings caught in the crossfire. As the djinn and the selkies struggle to hold onto the criminal empire that they schemed to gain and it is left to Margrit to try and negotiate a peaceful solution.
Caught up in the long running vendetta between a dispossessed dragonlord and a wealthy master vampire it will take all of Margrit’s skill to keep one step ahead of them and their games.
In previous book the vampires have always been a little bit lacking in the thrill and chill department. The only vampire strengths appeared to be long life, great healing ability and super speed – and while Eliseo was manipulative and threatening as a short, neat businessman he wasn’t exactly the stuff nightmares are made of. However, the vampires have a much larger part to play in the Hands of Flame and readers finally find out why they are creatures of nightmare when their true appearance is revealed.
If I had a criticism of Hands of Flame it would be that with all the action going on in the story there is no time left for romance between Alban and Margrit but to be honest the story is so fast paced and action packed that you hardly notice its absence.
Hands of Flame is a fantastic finish to the Negotiator trilogy – so good in fact it has left this reader wishing for more…
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