*Spoiler warning*: This review contains spoilers for book 1, so please read it before reading this review.
‘Ghost Dance’ is Rebecca Levene’s second book in ‘The Infernal Game’ series of supernatural thrillers and it also starts with a prologue. Once again, we are introduced to two of the novel’s characters. First we witness a school shooting by a boy, whose identity is revealed much later in the novel, and then we take part in Alexandra’s induction into the CIA or to be more precise, the Bureau of Counter-Rational Warfare, being the American equivalent of the Hermetic Division. The girl is forced to work for them to stay out of jail.
The novel then begins with Morgan, who can’t really cope with normal life and is therefore quite happy when he is called to a murder scene by his new superior, Kate, whom we met in the first book as Tom’s former lover. Doctor Jane Granger, a Cambridge historian due to give a guest lecture the next day, has been killed. Her throat was slashed in a curious way, leaving a gaping wound without any blood being visible. Morgan uses his new talent to see the dead in mirrors, acquired during the events of ‘Cold Warriors’, to watch the murder happening, hoping to identify the murderer.
Morgan’s investigation leads him to Cambridge, where he meets two of Granger’s PhD students and a DCI possessed by a demon, who tries to convince him to fight for the right side, which Morgan refuses by stating, ‘I work for the Hermetic Division. That’s my side – and I’m committed to them.’ The demon tells him that the murderer is a Mossad agent working for the other side. As Morgan later learns, the Mossad agent is possessed by an angel. That cements what we learned in the first book. ‘The Infernal Game’ series is not about good vs evil, it’s a world painted in a variety of grey shades. Demons fight angels and the humans in between are just pawns, which neither side has any scruples to sacrifice.
He learns from the student called Coby that Granger was obsessed with Dr John Dee and his search for immortality. Coby brings Morgan to Dee’s mirror using which Morgan speaks a moment with Dee’s ghost learning the location of the artefact needed for immortality. Coby flees shortly after, leaving Morgan to follow the trail to America together with Lahav, the Mossad agent/angel. The trail leads to a cult which calls itself the Croatoans. They meet up with a group of mercenaries fighting for Lahav and eventually catch up to Alex and to Coby.
The first mission of Alex, whose talent is to see and, later, even enter the spirit world, is to view some prisoners through the spirit world determining if they say the truth. She lies to her handler and so shows the reader her reluctance to just give in and be a good little soldier but her superiors believe her and give her a new mission. She has to infiltrate the Croatoans, who are promising their members spirit journeys. After a first probing into a recruitment centre of the cult, her handler, PD, saves Alex from being kidnapped by the cult.
Later, Alex and PD scout out a compound of the Croatoans, Alex uses this opportunity to escape from the clutches of the CIA by locking PD in to slow him down. But when she later learns that he has been captured by the cult because of her, she sets off to find and free him.
The novel alternates from chapter to chapter between these two storylines until Alex and Morgan meet in the end and go the rest of the way together.
This book reads a bit different to the first one. Where the first book has all the trappings of a cold war spy thriller, the second one is by all means a modern supernatural thriller, which is done quite well and comes to a satisfying conclusion and, despite there being two narrative threads, it moves along at the same fast pace as the first book.
Rebecca Levene has written the second book in the series more as dark urban fantasy than as a spy thriller, which is very appropriate because the war between Heaven and Hell, the titular Infernal Game, takes centre stage this time around. Morgan gets a little more aspects to his personality and Alex is given enough detail for her to feel like a person, not just a cardboard cut-out. The world of ‘The Infernal Game’ gets new and interesting facets. I enjoyed this second excursion into the adventures of Morgan as much as the first and it will in my opinion appeal to readers of dark urban fantasy. I at least would love to read more about the adventures of Morgan and Alex.
(pub: Abaddon. 277 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-38-8)
check out website: www.abaddonbooks.com