Release Day Review: Romeo Spikes (Lo-Life Trilogy #1) by Joanne Reay

Romeo Spikes (Lo-Life #1)
Gallery Books/August 14th, 2012
Kind thanks to Gallery Books for providing a review copy

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions. Like the long-legged beauty who seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rock star whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent life span of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next . . . and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change.

Washed up, disgraced psychiatrist Dr. Annie Torgus has got quite a story, and she’s determined to sell it to the highest bidder. For the past 35 years she’s worked at a prison called Morphic Fields, attempting to thwart suicide in death row inmates (the irony is not lost on her), and she’s convinced that there is something “otherworldly” about convicted child killer Agnus Day. Agnus has Gershwind syndrome that causes him to write compulsively on every surface, and he’s been known to portend trouble for the prison staff. Meanwhile, Detective Alexis Bianco is onto something too. Her latest case has her stumped, after the medical examiner came back with the news that the bones of a 22 year old girl are supposedly over 400 years old. This case leads her to Lola, a woman whose sole job is to hunt down and kill the Tormenta; demons that torment people into committing suicide so they can siphon their remaining lifespan. The Tormenta may be the least of humankind’s problems, however, because the Mosca is coming…

Romeo Spikes takes place in Louisiana and its bayous, and having just visited New Orleans, I can honestly say that the author couldn’t have used a more perfect location for this story. Morphic Fields is decidedly creepy, and the Tormenta are terrifying, just like the methods they use to increase their lifespans. I loved strong, smart Alexis Bianco and actually developed a bit of a soft spot for Lola. The demon mythology is fascinating and Ms. Reay manages to balance quite a cast of characters deftly. There are tons of plates spinning in the air in this head banger of a book, and I don’t recall one of them breaking. There’s so much awesome in Romeo Spikes, I’m not sure what to highlight, to be honest. For starters, Lola has a rocket launcher over her door, for gawd’s sake (and an alarmingly vast number of weapons hanging on the walls.) It’s got angels, demons, murder, insanity, bayou mambos, otherworldly hunters, super-secret government agencies, mysterious manuscripts, and yes, romeo spikes. It reads like a movie, which makes sense, since Joanne Reay is a professional screenwriter, and her prose virtually leaps off of the page. She’s not afraid to take risks either, and knows how to keep her readers on their toes. Romeo Spikes is a fast paced, breath-of-fresh-air, scary, exciting, and rather unique, humdinger of a novel, and I dare you not to get hooked at page one! It’s also part one of a trilogy, so there’s more to come, and I can’t wait!

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