This is my first Josie Jaffrey book and I certainly haven’t been disappointed; the writing is slick, the story is interesting and it’s got all the elements of a solid Oxford murder mystery!
Title: May Day
Series: Seekers #1
Author: Josie Jaffrey
Publisher: Silver Sun Books
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
Ownership: ARC provided by the author and for a blog tour with TheWriteReads
Rating: 3.5 stars rounded up to 4
About the Book
Jack Valentine is your standard gritty detective – backstory, attitude and drinks a lot. She’s also a tough bi vampire who works with the Seekers, a police-like organisation that aims to ensure that vampires (or Silvers) aren’t compromised or found out by humans. And, when a human is thrown from Magdalen College tower on May Day morning covered in violent scent mark of a Silver, in a very similar manner to a series of murders in London, there’s a twisted mystery for Jack and investigative team to solve. One that could have serious repercussions for the vampire’s society. There’s also the issue of the cute Dr Ross coming to work on the case, and the very much dark and brooding Killian Drake to contend with too. There’s a lot on Jack’s plate.
First off, it perhaps helps quite a lot that I know Oxford, and its colleges pretty well. I get a kick out of reading books that are set in the UK anyway, but even more so when it’s a place I know. So I’m familiar with the place names, the outlying villages and the city centre. I think someone else reading this book may struggle with that a bit more but, it is urban fantasy, so hopefully the reader can just go with it (but trust me that its geographically there!). But reading a book set in a place where I live is always a pleasure.
Second, I really enjoyed meeting Jack Valentine and her team of ‘detectives’. They’re sharp, funny, diverse and each has a distinct character and role to play in the story. There’s a lot of backstory here, perhaps more so than the actual murder solving, but I do love some good characterisation. Jack is also one of those delightful trainwreck characters who can’t say the right thing but is damn good at her job.
It’s also a preeeettty steamy novel. I do like a well-written sex scene, or sexual tension, and there’s plenty of this going on between both Jack and Tabitha Ross (who is such a delight – especially when she quotes Rocky Horror – and just think X-Men’s Moira MacTaggert), and also between Jack and Killian Drake aka the Baron of Oxford. Who is just a little bit … phwoar.
What I did struggle with though was the enemies to lovers line in this. I do enjoy it as a trope, and it was largely done well (and watch out for the use of proper names. I’m also a sucker for that). But there’s supposed to be this big backstory where Jack has hated Killian for 20 (!) years for something that she believes he did. I don’t know whether this comes up another of the books set in the same world, which I haven’t read, but I did feel as though some of that backstory was glossed over. And then it conveniently turned out (quite early on) that maybe there wasn’t actually a good reason for Jack to hate Drake … It meant that this felt a little rushed so that we could press on with the steamy will-they-won’t-they part.
The mystery itself is great – although it sometimes feels like it’s just the backdrop for the romance, particularly at the start of the book when things are getting set up. It’s certainly an urban fantasy gritty mystery though. I’m grateful the author included some trigger warnings as, although these aren’t issues for me personally, there are a lot quite grim themes (especially as a woman) that are dealt with quite graphically.
But in all – solid mystery, great setting, fun and interesting characters and what seems like a great start to a new series.
I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, in conjunction with a blog tour with TheWriteReads