Author: Ashlea Adams
Rating: Four stars
“Cold cases, cold coffee, rushing into situations other people run from – being a cop is tough. But it gets even tougher when the particulars of the case don’t match up with the way the world is supposed to be.
But some investigators take these paranormal speed bumps in their stride. Your murder suspect is a dragon? Bring it on. Your evidence comes from a conference with the spirit world? No problem. Your kidnapping suspect is an undead creature sprung from Old World folklore? Okay, that might take the fortification of an extra cup of coffee and some back up.”
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Poppies is a short story from the MCIS: Magical Crime Scene Investigation anthology, because I’m still not organised enough to read a full-length novel!
Seriously though, this was a pretty crazy read in a good way. Poppies draws from Japanese folklore and old fashioned magic while still grounding itself in the modern era. It’s so refreshing to read something that isn’t dependent on western folklore and legends, although they’re awesome too. (And I’m super guilty of only using the latter in my own books!)
Kathleen is a big cat shifter who has just learned her aunt Mariko was found dead from a heroine overdose. This is highly unlike her aunt who had a tough beginning in life but grew up to be a loving, caring person who kept her nose clean. Kathleen and her family suspect that Mariko was set up and murdered and Kathleen sets out to prove it.
After meeting her aunt’s friend Rosalene, Kathleen learns that her aunt had a protector, a baku named Tamotsu. An ancient creature from Japanese legend that is said to devour nightmares, it suddenly makes sense to Kathleen how her aunt kept her past at bay. When Kathleen and Rosalene find Tamotsu half dead, Kathleen becomes even more enraged that her aunt’s killer would torture her protector.
With the help of Rosalene and the god of sleep, Hypnos, Kathleen sets out to track down her aunt’s killer and secure vengeance for her and Tamotsu.
The characters were epic in this story. Rosalene is a vampire-esque creature who is both seductive and vengeful. Despite her own bad start in life, she has a soft spot for her friends and for Tamotsu, who she says she doesn’t get on with. (Kathleen knows better by the end!)
Hypnos is an especially tantalising character. He is said to draw people in with his charm and charisma yet struggles to stay awake for more than a couple of minutes. Although Rosalene assures Kathleen that there is one thing he will stay awake for. *wink* *wink*
The imagery is quite vivid despite the shortness of the story. The picture you paint of Mariko’s home and Hypnos’ cave is surprisingly clear, which speaks to the strength of the story. The only thing that didn’t sit well with me was the conclusion. Mariko’s killer was found more or less by accident and it transpires he didn’t have the clearest motives for doing what he did.
But the adventure, mystery and characters were truly enjoyable and I have half a mind to see if this author has published anything else.
If you want to read Poppies for yourself, here is the link to Magical Crime Scene Investigation on Amazon. One of my earlier stories is also included in this anthology!
Thanks for reading! Did you know I also write urban fantasy books? Check them out here!