The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson

The author, Vicki Pettersson, is a former Las Vegas showgirl turned writer.  Let this quell any idea you have that showgirls can’t be smart, too.  Pettersson is an excellent writer and this is a fabulous debut.

Joanna Archer, our heroine, was 16 when she was brutally assaulted and left for dead.  Not long after that, her mother disappeared.  She got through it all as best as she could – with the help of her sister, Olivia.  Their father, Xavier, made no secret of the fact that he didn’t care for Joanna.  Or at the very least, he favored Olivia.

Joanna created a life for herself as a photographer.  She studied krav maga and was something of a one-woman crime fighting phenomenon.

Then, Joanna’s world, such as it was, was dramatically altered.  She found out that she was not the biological child of Xavier and was disinherited.  She also found out that her mother, presumed dead, was very likely alive.  Joanna also found out that she wasn’t ordinary – she, Joanna Archer, was a superhero.

Those comic book superheroes that teenage boys loved to read about were actually real and protecting Las Vegas.  Sadly, there were not only Agents of the Light, there were also Agents of the Shadow, the bad guys, so to speak.  Joanna is an Agent of the Light but she has to go through training to become one and she has to leave her entire previous life.  Including the sister she is close to and the man she loves.

One of the things I like about this book is that Joanna is *real.* She is flawed. She screws up.  She fixes things.  She screws up again.  Just like real women.  She isn’t only the tough-as-nails crime-fighting superhero who never has an error in judgment or who never makes a mistake.  The other characters are also multidimensional.  Quite a task, I think, in a book with so many minor characters and only about 455 pages.

There is a lot to take in, so read this book slowly.  Some of the details will be important in the next book and probably the entire series, though I’ve only read two so far.  Look for the info on the second book tomorrow!

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