Feb 032014
Review: Trail of DeadTrail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard #2) by Melissa F. Olson
Narrated by: Amy McFadden
Published by Brillance Audio on Oct 22, 2013
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook from Purchased
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

As a null, Scarlett Bernard possesses a rare ability to counteract the supernatural by instantly neutralizing spells and magical forces. For years she has used her gift to scrub crime scenes of any magical traces, helping the powerful paranormal communities of Los Angeles stay hidden. But after LAPD detective Jesse Cruz discovered Scarlett’s secret, he made a bargain with her: solve a particularly grisly murder case, and he would stay silent about the city’s unearthly underworld.

Now two dead witches are found a few days before Christmas, and Scarlett is once again strong-armed into assisting the investigation. She soon finds a connection between the murders and her own former mentor, Olivia, a null who mysteriously turned into a vampire and who harbors her own sinister agenda. Now Scarlett must revisit her painful past to find Olivia—unless the blood-drenched present claims her life first.

For the first part of this book, I found myself wondering if this was going to suffer from book-two-itis and make me quit the series. Why? Because not much seems to happen in the first half. The last part of the book convinced me that this story isn’t that bad, and I should continue with the series.

This book is really about Scarlett, Olivia, and their past together. Due to this focus, there seemed to be a lot of reflecting and reminiscing, and not much action. This in turn made the book feel slow and unexciting. The final few scenes leading up to and including the big final fight were worth the wait, however I will admit that I was tempted to bail about halfway through.

One thing that kept me going was the hope that Eli would have a bigger presence. We got to see lots of Jesse, and I have to admit that I was getting bored of him. I wanted some beta werewolf to break up the monotony of the interactions between Scarlett and Jesse. Sadly, Eli was barely present in the story. He did make an appearance at the end with some surprise twists.

Speaking of which, I don’t really understand some of Scarlett’s actions in the end. She seems to have made some serious progress in her abilities and confidence that don’t really match anything that happened in the story. I’m not sure it’s believable, but I’m willing to see what happens when she has to explain everything in the next book.

I listened to the audiobook version of the story, and like the first one, the narration was spot on. The voice, tone and accents fit perfectly. Having listened to the audio versions of book 1 and 2, I’m going to have a hard time if the next book doesn’t have an audio version too.

Overall, this book did provide a lot of background to Scarlett’s life and character, and helped advance the overall series plot. It didn’t add a lot as a standalone story though, there just wasn’t enough action. It did keep me interested enough to make me want to read the next book.

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