Bound Book Cover Bound
Chinatown Demons Book One
Rhys Ford
LGBT Fantasy
Rogue Firebird Press;
November 30, 2020
105

Bound, Chinatown Demons, Book One

Chinatown, San Francisco.

A different place — another time— and where the city’s streets keep secrets, shadowy mysteries SFPD Inspector Spencer Ricci needs to dig through after he finds himself on a case involving a dismembered, mummified man in a restaurant’s locked storage room.

Spencer drags around a lot of baggage, including an ongoing battle with the bottle and a long career as an LAPD detective he’d set fire to in a blaze of booze-soaked mistakes. San Francisco is supposed to be a new start but his old ghosts haunt him, beckoning him back into his self-destructive bad habits. Bad habits that include contemplating doing dirty things with the wrong kind of guy and this time, it’s a sleek, cold-tempered medical examiner named Xian Carter with a complicated reputation.

For a century-old demon, Xian Carter is content with his secretive life. Hiding his nature from the mundane world, he blends in with the city’s inhabitants as best he can but even the best of predators make mistakes. Delving into the mysteries of the dead provide a welcome distraction from endless nights and hiding in plain sight amuses him, until something supernaturally wicked comes knocking on his door with an extremely hot, broody Inspector close behind.

Murder makes for strange bedfellows and this one is no exception. The twists and turns of the case leaves Xian and Spencer on a wild goose chase after clues but Xian can only hope there’s a human at the end of the trail—because the last thing San Francisco needs is another predator.

Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz 

Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

This is a lot of fun, and there was a sense of “oh goody, a new series!” thrumming through me as I read it. For all that there is some blood-letting (where would Rhys Ford be without it?), there’s also more of a gentle “noir” moodiness to this book than one finds in her other series. Both of the central characters, recovering alcoholic detective Spencer Ricci and half-Chinese demon coroner Xian Carter, are interesting and appealing. Demon coroner? Yep. Seems sort of vampire-y, but we don’t learn everything in this first installment, which is really a teaser novella for what promises to be a really good series. Both men are prickly and aloof, yet we recognize them as both good and just. 

 

The mysteries of Chinatown set the stage in this version of San Francisco, and not for the first time in Ford’s oeuvre. Spencer Ricci and Xian Carter meet in the course of a bizarre murder investigation. Or at least mummification, possibly murder. Both men are outsiders, hot and cool in different ways, appealing to the reader and to each other because of this contrast. The paranormal element is different, and very interesting to me, because Ford takes care to sketch out the moral boundaries embraced by the two demons we meet in the course of the story. She also takes great care to make sure we understand these guys’ personalities, without revealing too much—yet—while assuring that we understand them well enough to sympathize and care about them. 

 

But I knocked off a star for one reason: to me the novella cliffhanger format is an inherent cheat. I’m not used to Ford’s books doing this, even in an intense series. Her books typically feel complete and satisfying, a story well told (however much gunplay and adrenaline it involves). This was all very good, but the last line simultaneously made me smile and pissed me off. This felt like the middle of a book, not the end. It ends at the pivotal moment when Spencer and Xian’s relationship shifts irreversibly. For me, ending the narrative here until book 2 drops is just irritating. It felt like having to leave a restaurant halfway through a great meal.

 

Oh, I will buy book 2, and I will love the whole series. But until that next book comes out, I’m going to be annoyed.  I hope Rhys Ford has the next installment waiting in the wings, because I don’t want to wait too long.

 

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