Instead of a dame walking into the office of a rumpled, cynical P.I., the rumpled, cynical P.I. drops from heaven and into the life of the dame—Kit Craig, rockabilly and Girl Friday—one evening in modern-day Las Vegas. And so begins Vicki Pettersson's Celestial Blues trilogy, which wraps up with The Given this month.
I've long been a fan of urban fantasy, though for a while there, I was burnt out on ingenue narrarators and their paranormal love triangles (or quadrangles), as well as the creatures that go bump in the night. Pettersson injects new life into the genre with her blend of mid-century cool, Las Vegas kitsch, some theology, and a shaken, not stirred, splash of pulp noir. Oh, and there's an angsty, sexy star-crossed romance between journalist Kit Craig and her angel P.I. Griffin Shaw to round out the awesomeness.
In the first book of the series, The Taken, Pettersson drops the reader right into Grif and Kit's worlds, which are shaken when he saves her life instead of taking it, thus condemning him to “mudflat,” or planet Earth to fix his mistake. In the process of uncovering the reason Kit's best friend was murdered, Grif is also haunted by the fifty year old mystery of the double homicide that took his life and that of his wife Evie one balmy Las Vegas evening. The cast is rounded out by an array of colorful characters, ranging from aging mobsters to Kit's roller-derby playing, vintage dressing circle of friends, as well as Kit's hard-nosed Aunt Marin, the owner of the family newspaper. As a trigger warning, the plot does revolve around exploitation of under-aged girls, but I found it deftly handled using both mortal and paranormal aspects.
The second book, The Lost, picks up where the previous book left off, with Kit and Grif settling into a tentative, yet passionate relationship...despite his desperate search for the whereabouts of his dead wife. Unluckily for them, the angel P.I. and the rockabilly reporter have built a reputation for getting their noses into trouble: the trouble this time is a particularly nasty drug called krokodil (this is real, I've heard—and I've also heard that Googling it is not for the faint of heart!) and a simmering turf war between Las Vegas's Cuban and Russian communities. We delve a little more into Kit's backstory and the sorrows that made her choose optimism over depression, which ultimately forces her to make a decision involving how deep she wants to get involved with a man still in love with his wife.
The last book, The Given, wraps up the trilogy in an explosive way. All of the dangling ends from books 1 and 2 come to the fore, drawing on both Kit and Grif's respective pasts. As someone who loves intricately-built plots, I was blown away by Pettersson's planning of this trilogy—every single detail built on itself to set the stage for solving who killed Griffin Shaw and his wife, and what happened to her, as well as how Kit's police officer father died nearly twenty years before. Everything is pushed to the limits in The Given, including Grif's status as an angel and his love for Kit.
So if like me, you have suffered from Urban Fantasy Fatigue, and have been wary of trying new series, I can tell you that The Celestial Blues trilogy will pull you out of your doldroms. After completing The Given, I was quite sad that it was The End. I want more Kit and Grif! (hinthint, Ms. Pettersson).
Evangeline Holland is a writer of historical romances, an amateur milliner, and a really great cook. When not writing or reading, you can find her blogging about the Edwardian era on her website, the aptly titled Edwardian Promenade.