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NIght Child by Jes Battis Cover Picture

Night Child

Jes Battis

Published 2008             292 pages

The Summary (from the book jacket)

“That’s a dead vampire I thought.  My boss dragged me out of bed at two in the morning to see a dead vampire?  I might be and Occult Special Investigator for Vancouver’s mystical Crime Lab, but a dead vampire is routine and no reason to disturb a person’s sleep.  Then I took a closer look at the body…”

Tess Corday soon realizes that there is not going to be anything ordinary about this case – not the lab results on the cause of death; not Mia Polanski, the teenage girl living at the address found in the vamp’s pocket, who may well be in thrall to a demon; and certainly not Lucian Agrado, the necromancer who is liaison to the vampire community.  Agrado is supposed to be part of the solution, but Tess suspects he might be a part of the problem.

Under pressure from her boss, Tess is trying to go by the book on this one.  But when Mia reaches out to her, she risks her career to help the girl – and finds herself in the middle of a paranormal conspiracy that will change her life forever.

Or possibly end it…

The Review

Night Child is the first OSI novel by Canadian author Jes Battis.  OSI stands for Occult Special Investigator, which is also the job title of Tess Corday the novel’s narrator and protagonist.

The opening pages of Night Child see Tess called out to a crime scene containing the body of a mysteriously dead (as in finally dead) vampire.  As a junior employee of the Mystical Crime Lab unit of CORE (the Central Occult Regulation Enterprise) a dead vampire isn’t exactly unusual but as Tess starts to piece together the evidence it soon becomes apparent that there is more to this case than first meets the eye.

The story is told in first person by Tess and it contains classic elements of both the police procedural mystery thriller and the urban fantasy genre.  In the police thriller corner we have Marcus, Tess’s boss.  Tess has made her boss’s shit list.  From the start of the book it is clear that she is an underachiever whose boss is just waiting for her to screw up enough that he can fire her.  With her performance review due, he makes it clear that her career is riding on how she handles this case.  In typical “loose cannon” fashion she disregards his warning…

In the urban fantasy corner we have a world where magic, demons, vampires, telepaths and necromancers exist alongside mostly unaware humans.  We also have a young female protagonist willing to fight against the demons and vampires in order to protect the innocent citizens of Vancouver.

Night Child exists at the uneasy intersection of CSI and Buffy.  As a fan of both shows I found elements of this book enjoyable but ultimately when forensic science is applied to the supernatural it does seem to suck the magic out of it.  For me, forensic science and urban fantasy don’t make comfortable bedfellows; the scientific explanations often broke up the faster pacing of the urban fantasy story.  You see with shows like CSI the investigating takes place in the laboratory with the evidence painstakingly revealed through the tiny facts that make up a crime scene.  With shows like Buffy the investigation tends to be done by the heel of Buffy’s boot as she kicks demons back to hell. (And yes, I know she had the help of Willow library-geek-girl but it’s just not the same.)

However do not allow yourself to be constrained by my prejudices (and it isn’t often you’ll hear me say that) as an urban fantasy novel Night Child still has plenty going for it.  The crime mystery elements are well plotted and the characterization is first rate.  Tess’s character in particular was a refreshing change to the usual leather-clad gung-ho females that litter the urban fantasy genre. 

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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