13539162Reviewed by A.D. Cole

In post-Katrina New Orleans, all is not as it once was. Recovery is slow and crime is on the rise, but the most dramatic changes have occurred beneath the surface. After Katrina tore a rift in the border between the natural world and the Beyond, wizard Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, are given the task of watching over the city and managing the integration of preternatural beings into mortal society.

In River Road, Suzanne Johnson’s second installment in her Sentinels of New Orleans series, DJ’s job is complicated by two feuding clans of merpeople in Plaquemine Parish. Someone has been poisoning the waters in the area and the leaders of the clans are blaming each other. As if this isn’t enough, two wizards are found dead, and the suspect list is long. Could it be the charming, but infinitely untrustworthy undead pirate, Jean Lafitte? The sexy, but wizard-hating merman, Rene Delachaise? Or maybe something as simple as an angry wife?

As the bodies continue to pile up and the murders come closer to her own door, DJ searches frantically for answers, using both her wizarding powers and her highly dangerous, highly illegal elven powers. Her efforts are mired by the Wizard bureaucracy and her inability to know who she can trust. But she’s determined to solve the case and ultimately prove herself to her bosses and get that promotion and pay raise she so desperately needs.

The plot is solid and lively with humor. There are enough sparks between DJ and her partner, Alex–and DJ and her ex-love-interest, Jake–to add a dash of romantic interest to the story. And as a heroine, DJ is strong and savvy with enough flaws to make her relatable.

I also think Johnson did a great job world-building. I read the synopsis and immediately thought of Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries (a.k.a. True Blood) series, which also take place in Louisiana. But Johnson’s world is distinct and original. Her characterization of the magical creatures is also unique. And since I’ve brought up Harris’ series, I think it bears mentioning that Johnson’s books have, thus far, nowhere near the erotic element that the True Blood books do.

I had fun reading this and look forward to the third book in August. If you like urban fantasy and/or murder mysteries, I’d give this one a shot.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

A.D. Cole is a homeschooling mother and aspiring romance novelist. She lives in the Ozark foothills and spends her free time reading, writing, baking and pondering life’s little mysteries.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tor Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.