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New York City cop Miguel Rassin’s life is going downhill fast. He’s got a spotty record from the Army, a one-night stand who won’t go away, and a flock of reporters trying to crucify him for shooting a civilian waving a toy pistol. Now kids are turning up missing in the Bronx, and he’s partnered with by-the-book Detective Rob Jackson, a man with problems of his own. Their first suspect is a local shaman, Nikolai Adelman, who is either the strangest holy man ever or a con working his own angle.
Miguel’s trying to navigate a baffling case that has more questions than answers, caught between a surprising physical desire for Nikolai and his new partner’s suspicions about a shaman who claims supernatural forces are at work. Miguel has always tried to avoid relationships out of guilt and fear, but Nikolai sees the darkness in Miguel’s heart—and the fortitude Miguel has hidden deep inside, a strength that will help him solve the case and reclaim his life.
Lyn Gala is one of my friend’s favorite authors – unfortunately she also writes in genres that I don’t particularly enjoy, namely sci-fi, sometimes with BDSM content. This is one of the big reasons why, so far, I have only read one published contemporary book of hers. Currently, I am in a phase of trying to read older releases of MM books, and I stumbled onto this one (digging deep to my ‘unread’ folder in my computer *haha*). Skimming some reviews I saw that this has no BDSM content (yes!) and offered a combination of supernatural, urban fantasy, and mystery. Come to mama!!
The story follows Miguel Rassin’s perspective as he is involved in a case of missing kids on Tremont, in a Bronx neighborhood where the people distrust cops and are unwilling to cooperate even a little bit with the police’s attempts to find the kids. In the center of the community, however, is a doctor who is considered as their shaman. Nikolai Adelman might be the strangest person Miguel ever encountered, and he couldn’t understand the fact that Nikolai seems to be befriended and respected by his own Captain. Miguel’s partner, Rob, suspects that Nikolai is pulling a con and that the shaman has something to do with the missing children. Especially when he is starting to sprout non-sensical brou-ha-ha like magic and spirits. However, Miguel couldn’t escape the fact that he seemed to be drawn towards Nikolai.
I found the story to be fascinating – basically due to the interaction and interconnection between Miguel and the rest of the people through Nikolai. Nikolai confuses Miguel but intrigues him at the same time. I wholeheartedly enjoyed the way that Nikolai talked about magic, shamanism, the way of the world … heck, even when he is trying to analyze Miguel’s emotional pain. He is weird, and he is frustrating, but because of that I found Nikolai amusing. Which is probably the key element for me through the whole story because it is written solely from Miguel’s perspective. But because of that, I walked along the journey with Miguel, and at the same time I could also observed Miguel, as he slowly opened his mind from being a complete skeptic into someone who realizes that there might be something unexplainable in the universe he lives in. For me, that was one hell of a journey.
My friend – who ended up disliking this book – told me that she didn’t like the way that the people acted around the cops. How they seemed to stall the police investigation. However, for me, I actually found that another entertaining aspect. To be honest, I am not exactly a huge fan of authority. I’m not saying that I want to create riots and anarchy (I’m NOT that rebellious *lol*) but for me, respect is something that must be earned and not simply because of one’s title or role. Because of that, I enjoyed how the people made the detectives work harder to make them cooperate. In that aspect, Miguel is able to at least talk to them because he is willing to hear what Nikolai was saying about the community dynamic, even if he doesn’t necessarily believe in it, which earns their trust.
I found the rest of the characters to be engaging as well – this includes Miguel’s harsh partner, Rob. Miguel calls Rob “a sledgehammer” – he might not be racist or homophobic, he just hates people (especially those he deems as stupid) in general. Rob doesn’t back away from “verbal evisceration or humiliation” if he feels that it will yield the most results. But at the same time, Miguel also learns that Rob will never stab people in the back. His way of confrontation is honest and in your face. I found Rob to be a uniquely refreshing character.
I found the conclusion of the story to be rather sad, though. I understand that it fits with the whole magic and supernatural aspect, but I wish that it could be solved in a different way. I also thought that the ending felt somewhat rushed. I wanted more pages to tidy up things a little bit.
By the way, this book lacks in the romance department – our MCs don’t even share a kiss until about 88% and there is only one sexual content; even that one scene is only brief frottage rather than anal penetration. So consider this a reader’s advisory for those who prefer to have heavy romance and/or smut substance. However, if you’re not particularly adamant about that, and ready to dive into a character-driven storyline with a mix of mystery as well as shamanism/magic/supernatural as well as race/community dynamic, then by all means, give Urban Shaman a try.