Sunday, August 14, 2011

Deal with the Devil by Ali Vali

Publisher:                 Bold Strokes Books

Cain and Emma Casey are back in volume three of their story of life on the illegal side of New Orleans. Cain has formed an alliance with the Jatibon family, especially Remi, a woman who sees many things the same way Cain does. They understand that the futures of both families will be secured by moving into more legitimate businesses, including a gambling casino and a movie company. Ironically, the biggest opposition to their plans comes not from the ever-present FBI agents, but from other crime families who are fighting against the power being amassed by the Casey and Jatibon organizations. In the midst of this, Cain and Emma decide to have a third child and Remi Jatibon falls under the spell of the movie star Dallas Montgomery.

With constant government surveillance, dealing with the ruthlessness of their opponents and the threat of an assassin hanging over their heads, Cain, Emma and Remi attempt to create a life where they won't have to constantly be looking over their shoulders. Their enemies are determined though and don't hesitate to strike at their weaknesses, especially Cain's, which is Emma.

This book may be the best in the series. The action was good and well paced. There was certainly plenty of it. What is particularly intriguing is the way Vali builds the characters. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that these are actually supposed to be "bad" people. Cain Casey and Remi Jatibon are criminals, but they have a code of honor that's stronger than most of the law enforcement officials in the book.  Cain and Remi almost come off like Robin Hood or Zorro characters. You know they're breaking the law and their tactics, although needed, might make the reader wince, but it seems OK. They are certainly more likeable than most of the people on the "right side" of the law. There is a strong supporting cast of characters, from Cain's lawyer cousin Muriel to Remi's father and brother and the interesting Dallas Montgomery. Even the villains are intriguing, though you end up wondering just how stupid they really are. 

One detail of the book that sticks out is that the professionals are particularly heavy with lesbians – government agents, lawyers, doctors; and every crime lord has a female head of the body guards. It almost feels like lesbian overkill, but this is fiction and lesbian fiction at that. Besides, it's a minor point. The ending was a bit rushed for all of the build up it was given in the book, but overall this one is worth reading

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