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Summary

Yancy Lazarus is having a bad day: there's a bullet lodged in his butt cheek, his face looks like the site of a demolition derby, and he's been saran-wrapped to a banquet table. He never should have answered the phone. Stupid bleeding heart - helping others in his circles is a good way to die - just ask the gang members ripped to pieces by some kind of demonic nightmare in LA.

As a favor to a friend, Yancy agrees to take a little looksee into the massacre and boom, he's stuck in a turf war between two rival gangs, which both think he's pinch-hitting for the other side. Oh, and there's also a secretive dark mage with some mean ol' magical chops and a small army of hyena-faced, body-snatching baddies. It might be time to seriously reconsider some of his life choices.

Yancy is a bluesman, a rambler, a gambler, but not much more. Sure, he can do a little magic - maybe even more than just a little magic - but he knows enough to keep his head down and stay clear of freaky-deaky hoodoo like this business in LA. Somehow though, he's been set up to take a real bad fall - the kind of very permanent fall that leaves a guy with a toe tag. That's unless, of course, he can find out who is responsible for the gangland murders, make peace in the midst of the gang feud, and takeout said magical dark mage before he hexes Yancy into an early retirement. Easy right? Stupid. Bleeding. Heart.

©2014 James A. Hunter (Adam W. Strode) (P)2015 James A. Hunter (Adam W. Strode)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ray Johnson
  • 11-03-18

Framed like the Mona Lisa, can he clear his name?

I have to admit that I came into this game late. I accidentally stumbled upon Yancy somewhere along the line of book 5, and now I am backtracking. This is what I like, Urban Fantasy at its finest. Lazarus is an interesting guy who ends up caught between the Scylla and Charybdis, more than a rock and a hard place. He has tough choices to make, made even harder if he wants to stay one of the "good guys".

He finds himself swept up in a battle between rival gangs, with a nasty dark mage also thrown into the mix, and his struggle to figure out who is behind everything is utterly entracing. I've said it before, this guy can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Harry Dresden, Nate Temple, Monatgue & Strong, and Sandman Slim. Only here, to me at least, the characters and the action seems grittier; more down to earth, than in say a Nate Temple story. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like mewill decide based on my review.

I do want to talk about Charlie Kevin for a moment. I love his narration. It comes across as one of those olf Phillip Marlowe type of dialogues, and adds a pulpy noir characteristic that really enhanced the story for me. He paints a great verbal picture, and uses his voice to punctuate points when he needs to. It is a great style, and I think he is a great fit for the series. This much is obvious in book 5, where he really seems comfortable in the narration. Even James Marsters had to get a feel for his readings of the Dresden Files, but Kevin seems to have hit the ground running, and I appreciate that.

Overall, this is a great way to start a series, introduce a character, and lay the groundwork for the setting and magic system. Give this book a try, you wil not regret it. Not for one moment.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • DonDiva
  • 13-10-15

I love it

hard edged mage with some heat. I can't wait to read the next one. let's ho

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Suzanne
  • 10-11-15

Wiseguy Wizard from the South?

In listening to this novel I found that the story itself isn't too bad. Character development seemed good and the plot was solid. However, the use of cliches throughout the main characters diatribe started to get old at about chapter 5. Don't get me wrong, using cliches isn't bad but when someone can't describe something without using them it gets old really quickly.

Another thing that bothered me was that the narrator had a Brooklyn accent - but he apparently grew up in South Carolina. I am NOT sure who came up with the idea that the narrator should have a Yankee accent when he obviously should sound as southern as Rhett Butler but it's something that I couldn't get past once he mentioned where he grew up.

Also - as a result of this "wiseguy" accent he comes off as monotone. He does intonate and there are a few chapters where there is more emotion, but it's not where it should be. For most of the book I was rolling my eyes because of the cliches and the monotone Brooklyn accent.

The story is good though - I think it could be better with the right narration, but this isn't working for me. Others might enjoy it... once you get past the obvious disconnect regarding where he grew up and what his accent sounds like. I think the narrator could do different accents - he did a great job at the other characters (Indian, upper class British, hispanic) but I guess no one thought to read the book before settling on the main characters accent.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • 10-04-16

I hope to get more in this series!

I bought this one back in January on some kind of sale from Audible, and was looking for something in this vein yesterday, so I surfed my list. Boy, am I glad that I did! I even bought the whispersync to go with it, and plan to recommend it to a USMC relative who is also into urban fantasy.
You can find teasers in the publisher's blurb and in several other reviews, so I won't even go there. I can tell you, however, what I liked about it. Yancy is one of the good guys, not a hero, just ask him. But he is an accomplished mage, and talks to himself a lot, so we really get to know a lot about him and all of the bad guys he keeps encountering. There is almost constant action, new threats, old friends and even more old enemies. The humor is wry and snarky and there are many movie/tv references familiar to many of us. The plot is fast-paced and twisty, and draws from other cultures than the standard western european. It grabbed me by the ears and held on tight.
The narrator-with-two-first-names is a real gas. He does delineate the characters rather well, though his rendering of the little girl is awful. But that isn't really important, as that is rather short. His diction is clear and voice is pleasant, a real asset to the tale.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carryit
  • 07-01-16

A good book well read

Great story. The reader is Perfect. Very entertaining. Thanks to the author. I like the vietnam reference.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Meagan
  • 21-12-15

Wish there was a version with different narration.

Any additional comments?

Not a fan of the narration. The Yankee accent makes this guy's voice so monotone it's grating. I'm only two hours in so far, and I'm not sure I'll be able to finish because of it. The story itself isn't bad, and the main character is okay, but I would recommend trying the printed version of this book, rather than the audio book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Melissa Kramer
  • 05-10-15

All inclusive experience

Where you might think the characters or story would be cheesy, it managed to completely NOT be. Well thought out. Lovable characters even for gunrunners. And the whole bit about ribs and blues just made me smile. A good time had in every way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 27-11-15

The narrator makes it work

What did you love best about Strange Magic?

I'd have to class it a guilty pleasure.

If you read the reviews of it as a book, just about everyone reacts negatively to the constant cliches spouted by the protagonist. They're not just laid on thick, they're spackled on with a trowel. And then poured on with a concrete mixer.

But weirdly, it all works. It's a little too heavy handed to compare to something like The Dresden Files, but it's clear that's the sort of thing the author was aiming at. So it's a good light snack of a book while waiting for the next Harry Dresden novel.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Strange Magic?

Which was the most memorable potato chip in the bag? I'm not sure there really are any particularly memorable moments, but the whole thing rolls along nicely, taking you with it for a pleasant ride.

Which character – as performed by Charlie Kevin – was your favorite?

Favorite? Hard to say. About the only actually fully realized character is the protagonist, Yancy Lazarus. And Charlie Kevin gets him perfect.

The character can't finish a sentence without a half-dozen tired cliches. In another narrator's hands, it would get insanely tiresome. But Kevin manages to make it work, and those cliches come off as just wryly sarcastic enough that you experience the character as world-weary and self-deprecating enough that you could really believe he'd talk that way.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed it. I'd buy the next in the series (if it's ever recorded, and narrated by the same narrator.)

It's pulp fiction, and should be judged by those standards. And by those standards, it's pretty darn good.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dawm
  • 26-01-16

Slow starter

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

A lot of other reviews mentioned the narration was lacking. I don’t know Charlie Kevin’s voice sounds like a real tough guy, the kind of guy who is a real badass who can freeze your eye balls. I don’t know I think it is ok. Yancy Lazarus was born in Montana and grew up on North Carolina, maybe he would have more of a southern twang who knows?

Any additional comments?

If you can get past the first few hours, it starts to get better. The thing I did not like was the constant smart ass remarks. OK, I get it Yancy is a cynical bastard enough already.

Overall it was an interesting 6 hours. Fast pace, interesting magic, alright characters, alright plot, it's an alright book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-06-18

boring monologues in a monotone voice

story wasn't very good and monologues about every single action taken as if the entire story hinged on you knowing every single detail of his clothes gun or sticky note....