Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ARC Review: Mob Rules

Mob Rules
Cameron Haley
Urban Fantasy

Underworld Cycle/Book 1
Luna/September 2010

Received from Luna/NetGalley

From the author's website ~

As LA plunges into an occult gang war, mob sorceress Domino Riley must unravel a conspiracy that reaches beyond the magic-soaked mean streets into a world of myth and legend.

Domino investigates the ritual execution of a mob associate, a graffiti magician named Jamal. The kid isn’t just dead, he’s been squeezed — the killer stole his magical power or “juice.” Domino summons Jamal’s shade, and the ghost points to Adan Rashan as his killer. This is tricky, because Adan is the favored son of Domino’s boss, Shanar Rashan, a six-thousand-year-old Sumerian wizard. It’s even trickier because only a mobbed-up sorcerer could have squeezed Jamal and Adan isn’t a sorcerer.

As the corpses pile up, Domino must confront the killer and unmask an otherworldly kingpin with designs on her gang’s magic-rich turf.

MOB RULES is an urban fantasy novel of murder and magic, betrayal and redemption set in the supernatural underworld of Los Angeles.

The opening of Mob Rules is in your face gruesome and combined with dark humor gets the story of Dominica (Domino) Riley off to a quick start. This is LA but not the one we're familiar with. This is an LA run by what are called "outfits" which are a lot like present day mafia. They each control different sections of the city and for the most part get along. Each outfit is headed by a powerful sorcerer. Domino's boss, Shanar Rashan, is thought to be one of the more powerful sorcerers and he's the one that trained Domino.

Domino a sorcerer and uses her powers for good - okay, not really. She uses her powers for the outfit, making sure everything runs smoothly. The way Domino describes herself and her work is a "fixer". When it comes to magic she's one of the more powerful members of the outfit. She's got a spell for just about everything. Which is good since she uses her magic a lot. She gets called to fix the more serious things like when one of the outfit members is skinned. Yep, he's found skinned. Domino has to figure out who did it and why. She's able to read/sense the magic from objects and she uses that ability to help her investigate the murder. It's a intricate world of magic Dominic inhabits and there were times when it felt a little too crowded. Keeping track of the members of Dominic's outfit, add in those of the other outfits plus creatures from the Between and it got a little confusing.

Domino is a woman but there are times when it's easy to forget that fact. She acts more like a man through much of the book. When she's with Adan, her potential boyfriend, it's then she comes across as a female but when she's working, it's hard to tell she's female. I think I would have liked her more and possibly connected with her better if she had shown her more feminine side a bit more. I do understand why she had to be tough and sometimes cold when dealing with the men of the outfits but a few more reminders here and there of her gender would have been good.

Piskies, werewolves, vampires, a jinn in a TV - there are a lot of different beings in Domino's world and she seems to run into them all at one point or another. The story took an odd turn when Domino went into the Between. It's this other world where places and things are similar to Domino's world but with a shadowy effect. It has this eerie quality to it that gives it a distorted feel. Like you can't believe everything you see. Domino finds this out when she tries to battle a vampire and her powers don't work the same way they do in her world. I did like how the two worlds meshed together and hope we see more of the Between in the next book.

There is a romance of sorts. It's minimal and Domino does show a tender side when with Adan but she's still a lieutenant in the outfit with a lot of responsibilities. Her job is never far from her thoughts and along with the job, there is a lot of stress. If you're hoping for romance, this is UF with the romance being a minor part of the story.

Overall, I liked certain parts of Mob Rules. I think Domino as a heroine is interesting and certainly different from the usual UF heroines. I do think there was too much going on at times and hope the next book is more streamlined. Mob Rules is the first book in a series so there is a lot of world building and there is potential for a solid series. The author Cameron Haley has written a prequel novella, Retribution, releasing October 1 in the anthology Harvest Moon with Mercedes Lackey and Michelle Sagara. If you like a lot of magic and violence then this could work for you.

Rating: B-


  1. Thanks for this review. I have been really intrigued by the cover! And wondering. May have to give it a spin.

  2. It does sound like there's a lot (maybe too much) going on this book? I saw this and thought about reading it, but I think I'll pass at this time. :) Thanks for the review, Leslie.

  3. CJ ~ If you're in the mood for action & minimal romance, then this could certainly work.

    Hils ~ I'm hoping I like the 2nd book more. 1st books in UF are hard because there's usually so much world building that the author needs to show/tell the reader. It's hard to find that balance.

  4. Hmmm, I think I can hold off till the 2nd book comes out. Problem with UF is your attention has to be engaged from the beginning... Plus, I'm biased ^_^; I already know that this is written by a male author, so... ^_^; I'm not surprised that sometimes, you forget Riley is a woman...

  5. Nath ~ it definitely focused more on the magic/action than the relationships. It did leave me interested in reading the next one so that's good. :)