Web of Lies
by Jennifer Estep
MM Paperback – $7.99
Before writing this review, I went back and read my review of Spider’s Bite, which I wrote in January. It was decidedly lukewarm.
This review will not be lukewarm. I thoroughly enjoyed Web of Lies. I have been reading Ms. Estep’s books from the beginning, and with this novel, her writing has achieved a higher level of polish, altogether.
Reformed assassin Gin Blanco is trying very hard to be just another restaurant owner in a neighborhood that is in the gray area between the good side of town and the bad. However, when two punks try to hold up her place, she kicks their asses. And by doing that, she attracts all kinds of unwanted attention.
In the midst of this, one Violet Fox comes around looking for Gin’s mentor, Fletcher. Violet gets Gin instead, who becomes very curious about what Violet wanted . . . especially when an assassin tries to take Violet out in Gin’s restaurant. Good thing Gin has bulletproof glass windows. Gin starts digging around into Violet’s background, and just gets more and more involved.
Every area that I had troubles with in Spider’s Bite is resolved in Web of Lies. Everything is meticulously researched–even the innards of a coal mine. No more are tricky escapes glossed over, and no more are motivations flimsy. Every time I thought I had a ding for this novel, Ms. Estep covered for it. One thing I was going to complain about is that Gin can only ever think of one solution to a person who is causing a problem — that person must die. Well, I can’t complain about that because Ms. Estep tackles it head-on. Another ding I thought I had was that Donovan Caine, the honest cop who somehow can’t resist Gin, is a bit too easily led by Gin away from his principals. Well, Ms. Estep addresses this as well! I have nothing left to complain about.
And the side characters are wonderfully explored in this novel. I especially love Sophia, who can say with one “Humph?” what takes other characters entire paragraphs to say. She’s the silent but deadly type. Jo-Jo, her Air Elemental sister, is great fun, too, in a big-sisterly kind of way. Finn makes a great sidekick. There is a new possible romantic interest, and he is quite intriguing. Do we have a love triangle coming on?
And then there’s Gin, herself. She’s a dark character, sure, but she’s so easy to like. She keeps her feelings bottled deep inside, but the reader is able to experience them all. We are high and tight behind Gin’s eyeballs. And best of all, she kicks ass, but she doesn’t mouth off. She is way to deadly to be snarky. And the growth of her character is just phenomenal. I ended up rooting for her all the way.
I don’t usually comment on covers, but I just love the cover on this novel. Ignored the washed-out blotchiness of the cover pictured here; this looks like a bad scan but I can’t find another image. In any case, this cover is so much better than the cover of Spider’s Bite and the mood is perfect. You can see the long mine shaft, and at the very top left corner, almost where you wouldn’t notice it, is Gin’s branded palm.
Ms. Estep is getting a lot of great reviews with Web of Lies, and I’m happy to join the chorus. It yanked me into the story and didn’t let go until the last page. What’s more, there were enough teasers about the next book that I’m really looking forward to it.