Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Riptide Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Kate Kane is a private investigator living in London. She is also a fairy princess, her girlfriend is a vampire and her secretary is an animated statue. Kate specialises in cases involving the paranormal because "when all you've got is an enchanted hammer, every problem starts to look like a possessed nail." Her life is just starting to get back to normal (or as close as she gets to it) after the death of her partner and the other traumatic events of the past year when a simple missing persons case turns out to be part of something much stranger and more complicated. Her dreams are haunted by a shadowy figure with big black wings and her partner's murderer, Corin, has escaped from prison and is up to her old tricks. Meanwhile, Kate is put on trial for the murder of a vampire prince and, if convicted may lose her head.
Shadows and Dreams is the second volume of the Kate Kane, Paranormal Investigator series by Alexis Hall. It would probably be better to read the series in order, which I didn't, but this volume still makes sense if you haven't read the first book. The series is reminiscent of the early Anita Blake books (before they started being much more about sex than monster slaying), but with fewer gratuitous descriptions of the hero's clothing and a lot more wit. The humour was a little like that in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. I love Hall's turn of phrase. For example, Kate's girlfriend, Julian is described as looking like "the bastard lovechild of Audrey Hepburn and Captain Hook." The repartee between Kate and her secretary Elise is hilarious, as is the storyline about the moody vampire Patrick who is undercover at a high school where he has been busily wooing a seventeen year old girl.
There's a lot going on in this story, which can make it a little tricky to follow at times, but it seems to be setting things up for future books. I can't say too much for fear of giving spoilers but there are several interesting villains who will probably reappear. The minor characters are well fleshed out and Kate is a likeable hero with good taste in hats.
Shadows and Dreams is a gripping, sexy and at times very funny detective story, recommended for fans of lesbian fiction or urban fantasy in the manner of Jim Butcher. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the series.