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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the second book in the Paranormal Scene Investigations Series and I did not get a chance to read the first book, Hard Magic. I was easily able to start with book 2 and not feel like I was missing any valuable information. I like when a book in a series can also stand on its own so this was a good thing in my opinion. The main character Bonnie is a member of P.U.P.I (Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations). The team is like a paranormal CSI and I really liked following along as they worked to solve a crime. The case that they are called in to solve is very interesting and that is not always the case in UF where sometimes the paranormal elements overshadow the mystery.

Bonnie is unapologetically a girl who does what she wants and I like that about her. She drinks and she gets physical with a man because she can and does not expect a relationship to follow or try to force one. Let's be real, she is a young unmarried woman and I think that behavior is realistic and I like that! She does not step over the line with that behavior though to become some stereotype, which I hate. I appreciate when a character is relatable especially in an urban fantasy novel where we are asked to suspend disbelief about so much else.

Besides Bonnie, the team is made up of other fun characters and I think we get a pretty good feel for their personalities. There are two bosses, Ian and Ben, and I enjoyed the scenes involving them. Ian has a storyline involving his sister and I enjoyed that extra bit of family dynamic. Of course I could not leave out the romance. I really enjoyed the slow burn of this one. I was never sure exactly what direction she was ultimately going to go and I enjoyed the ride.
BOTTOM LINE: GREAT SERIES AND I CAN NOT WAIT TO READ BOOK 3!
Source: Publisher LUNA Books in exchange for an honest and fair review.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
[...]

I have always been a sucker for magic mixed with realism, for me, mundane details about a fantastical premise make everything that much more enjoyable and plausible. Laura Anne Gilman is a master at this style of storytelling, and easily juggles realistic mystery, racial and political infighting, and a rich magical tradition. All of these elements were a slam dunk in her Retrievers series and continue to delight in the spin off Paranormal Scene Investigations books.

Despite inhabiting a parallel time frame to the much beloved Retrievers storyline, I have no difficulty viewing HARD MAGIC and PACK OF LIES as their own stand alone series. Gilman writes well for a broad audience, providing enough detail for new readers without any danger of overloading us old fans with unnecessary retreads. This is especially true in PACK OF LIES, which felt like a much more concise, well-balanced read than it's predecessor. HARD MAGIC did the heavy lifting of establishing Bonnie's back story and setting up her current job, PACK OF LIES benefits from that foundation with a fast, thrilling pace from start to finish.

Neither police nor civilians, hired by clients but ultimately working for the truth, the PUPI investigation squad has a lot at stake with every case they take on. Bonnie and her co-workers are blazing new trails, using their magical skills to investigate crimes, and one slip up can seriously damage their credibility with the magical community. I really enjoyed how PUPI is unfettered by traditional police procedural rules. This license is both a blessing and a curse, as it allows them the freedom to gather evidence in new and interesting ways but also forces the team to create workarounds and overcome obstacles to serve justice outside the legal system.

Alongside this satisfying gumshoe-procedural, PACK OF LIES offers an intimate glimpse of the friendships amongst the PUPI's. Bonnie is an astute observer, and I enjoyed her take on her co-workers' relationship dynamics as much as I savored the sexual tension between her and her boss, one of the "Big Dogs", Ben Venec. Gilman brings as much loving attention to the details that make up her characters' personal lives as she does to the world they live in, and that pays off in entertaining dialogue, touching interactions, and sexual tension that steams right up off the page. I adore how Gilman takes one of the most clichéd urban fantasy romance tropes and turns it on its head.

Be forewarned, however, that in both relationship and world building, Gilman is not one to rush the climax. Danger simmers around the PUPI's, even as their own relationships heat up, and PACK OF LIES leaves plenty of tension for the next installment in the series.

Sexual Content: Mention of rape, discussions of sexual orientation, mild sex scenes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I must admit I was not looking forward to reading this book because I didn't care for the first one. It's not a bad book it just pretty much giving you the background/setup for future books. I'm now glad I read the first one and would recommend that you do so too. I picked the second one up (Pack of Lies) because this one got such good reviews that I thought I should check it out. Boy I'm glad I did. It starts off with a bang and doesn't let up until the end. The PUPI (private unaffiliated paranormal investigations) are out to find the facts about an attack on a ki-rin and its companion. A ki-rin is a rare and ancient breed that you show upmost respect to and you never question their integrity. While the gang is trying to figure that puzzle, they are also under attack from another front. Did I mention the sexual tension between Bonnie (a PUPI investigator) and her boss Ben? Yikes it is hot, hot, hot. Pack of lies is a very good book that I highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
The PUPI team gets a case that seems pretty open and shut. However, they quickly realize things are much more complicated. Tensions rise between the humans and the fatae and it will only take a single spark to ignite a dangerous showdown. Its up to the team to get to the bottom of the case before it's too late. Meanwhile other tensions are brewing as unexplained events happen between Bonnie and Ben making it harder for her to ignore her feelings for him. It seems almost everything is this book is only one step away from disaster and it's up to the team to walk that fine line without stepping over the edge.

My biggest frustration about the last book was the extremely slow pacing. This book however, really picked it up. As soon as they pick up the case, it becomes a roller coaster ride to solve it. I really love how the team or "pack" is really working great together now. While they still clash at times, they really have solidified their bonds and will stick together through it all. I really love how all of them interact, especially the "big dog bosses." Despite their gruff exteriors you can tell that underneath they really care for their "puppies."

This book had some major sexual tension. Bonnie has always been extremely open about her personal life and sexual preferences, or lack there of as she doesn't discriminate on gender. However, for once she may just have some secrets. From the start she has had a major attraction to one of the bosses, Ben Venec. In this book, it becomes apparent that he has some serious attraction to her as well. They both know it would only be a recipe for disaster so they try their best to stay away from each other. But some pretty strange things start happening between them that make it almost impossible to stay apart. Only sheer will power keeps them separate. You can almost taste the tension coming off the page.

I'm really glad that I gave this book a chance. After reading and not really enjoying the first book I was pretty skeptical about continuing the series. The biggest reason I did was while very slow, the first book did pave the way into a really intriguing world. The premise behind these books is really interesting and original, and I'm really glad this one was able to hold my interest much better. The additional sexual tension really added to the book as well, and makes me very eager for the next installment. All in all, it was a much better book than the first one, and now that the world is fully established, and the kinks are mostly out, I hope the series continues on this "new" path.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This review is a portion of a longer review that previously appeared at Goodreads.

Pack of Lies is the second of the Paranormal Scene Investigations, as the publisher calls the urban fantasies about Bonita Torres, Talent (that's a human magic-user to you) and now a PUPI, a Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigator. That unaffiliated part is important, because Bonnie, her team mates and two bosses are trying to create something that has never existed before - people who evaluate the Facts of a magic crime, taking no side.

Eight months into this grand experiment, there are a few people who grudgingly admit their skills might be useful, people (and I use the word loosely)who are deeply suspicious of the idea, and people who bitterly oppose their venture and are doing everything they can to undermine it.

In this novel, what appears to be an open and shut case of an attack upon a fatae (non-human, thinking, magical creature) and his human, Talented companion is not only not simple, it may be related to a slow simmer of bigotry bubbling up in the stew of magic-users. The human Council (heavy hitters who follow certain laws and regs) distrusts the lonejacks (the independent magic-users,) the purebloods are suspicious of the part-bloods and mixed-bloods, and the fatae suspect the humans are out to exterminate them - and a few probably are. Gilman does an excellent job of introducing all these concepts, never interrupting the flow of the story.

This book is not as violent as the Retriever books tended to be, although it is as dark in its own way. Bonnie and her cohorts are all twenty-somethings, and the things they learn about magic, and about human nature, hit with force because the first lessons are often the hardest.

If you enjoy the CSI style of story, if you like urban fantasy, if you like strong characterization, chances are you'll like this book. Don't read it as a romance (although a strong attraction is being fought in here) and don't expect the crime to be tied up in a bow. Nothing is that simple in a Gilman novel, and her fans wouldn't have it any other way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI) team of New York gets a new case that at first glance appears open and shut. A young girl was attacked by two men. An attempted rape. The girl's companion murdered one of the attackers and injured the other. The victim and the attackers are all Talents (of the Cosa Nostradamus magical community) and the victim's companion is a ki-rin (a type of rare and exotic fatae, especially known for its strict sense of honor). PUPI quickly finds that they are sitting on a powder cage as the fatae are upset that a ki-rin was disrespected and are deeply suspicious of the Talents and the Talents seem to be actively turning against the fatae.

Pack of Lies is book two in the Paranormal Scene Investigations series.
The first book was Hard Magic. I thought Hard Magic was interesting but I also thought it was slow paced and that the resolution lacked "umph." Pack of Lies picks up the pace quite a bit and the mysteries of what really happened and why the Cosa community is so riled up are much more emotionally intriguing. The ending is not slam bang action (this is not that kind of book anyways) but is much more satisfying than the ending of book one.

The main character is PUPI investigator Bonita Torres and I like this character a lot. She is a very open and adventuresome young woman. Part of her skills and her job at PUPI involves "gleaning," she gathers physical, emotional, and magical information from the scene of the crime then recreates it back at their offices so it can be studied in depth. But the violence of the attempted rape is a great emotional shock to Bonnie and starts to effect how she reacts to the men around her, even her teammates.

The other characters are a more mixed bag. The rest of the PUPI team are nicely drawn. You get a nice feel for their personalities but there are still plenty of secrets waiting to be revealed in coming books. However, I would have liked to learn more about the victim and the attackers. Much is made of how fragile and damaged the young girl is but I still would have liked to learn more about her, her situation, her life as a ki-rin's companion. And we learn practically nothing about the men involved in the attack.

The story is told mostly from Bonnie's point of view but there are a couple of jumps to the POV of other characters. The first is a non-Talent man and his brother who have a personal interest in PUPI. The second POV switch involves PUPI "big dog" bossman Ben Venec. While the POV switches serve to introduce the brothers and to give the readers more information about the relationship between Bonnie and Venec, I found them to be a bit jarring. I would much rather the author just stay with Bonnie's POV.

Overall, the book is a relaxing read, not as slow as the first book but still not an action adventure. The world building is complex and intriguing. The system of magic is different and interesting. And Bonnie's character is a nice change from the more common take-charge Urban Fantasy heroines.

I actually read two copies of this book: one from the Amazon Vine program and a digital version from Net Galleys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 22, 2011
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI) is willing to handle the difficult cases with a neutral eye. But will their latest investigation test all that they know and believe to be true?

Bonita Torres enjoys her investigative role as a member of PUPI. PUPI is still searching for acceptance by the Cosa Nostradamus so she and her teammates are determined to do a good job when they are called into their latest case. Unfortunately, this case has humans and fatae on edge and violence is beginning to erupt. Can PUPI solve the case before things completely unravel?

PACK OF LIES is the second book in the Paranormal Scene Investigations series but can easily be read as a stand alone. Laura Anne Gilman focuses more on the mystery and the surrounding investigation, while giving readers enough back history to appreciate the tale regardless as to whether they've read HARD MAGIC.

Bonita believes in living for the moment, a trait that makes her hard to like at times. Her relationships are a mess- and events in PACK OF LIES only deepen the disaster. However, her reaction to the rape of the ki-rin's companion is more than understandable. I like that Laura Anne Gilman tackles head on the issue of rape and its aftermath without flinching. It's refreshing to read an urban fantasy tale that is unafraid to tackle such sensitive issues.

It's hard to rate PACK OF LIES. The story starts off with a bang but the underlying intrigues build slowly within the context of the mystery. The ending isn't necessarily a satisfying one as many will expect from a mystery. Instead, it's far too realistic... and perhaps it is that disquieting feeling PACK OF LIES concludes with that makes it so hard to rate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
I like this series. This is the second book in this series but the third one I have read in the last two days.
PUPI has now been open for 8 months. They are all working well together as a team. Still a lot of people don't want them around afraid of what they might find.
Ian is excited about a case they just recieved. It is new and the first one they actually get to the scene before the evidence gets smudged. Unlucky for Bonnie she is the best of gleaning and remembering everything so she gets to the scene. It was a attempted rape and a murder of the rapest and friend was hurt. The Ki-rin was the girl's companion and he killed and injured the attackers.
Bonnie has a hard time gathering the evidence for once and she keeps looking at males different for awhile.
The case should be a closed one easy but then the wounded said she provoked him. A case of she said/he said.
The Ki-rin is a member of the fae and a rare cousin of the unicorn. He cannot be around someone who is not vigin and just by being attacked loses her companion.
Their is already tension between the fae and the humans talents and the mood is getting worse and worse. They need to find out who is telling the truth and who is lying to them.
Bonnie and one of the Big Dogs Ben Venec are reading each other more. they are comming in with words not just the images the others get. If one of them gets their shields down a little the other is drawn in. Their is a stronger attraction building up that neither wants.
I really like the interaction of all the characters it seems real to me. It is a clean easy read that keeps your attention. I will read more from Laura Anne Gilman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
P.U.P.I (Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations) is back and taking on a case that makes the unaffiliated portion of their name rather important. The fatae is a group that consists of all pure magical creatures. When a fatae is forced to kill a Talent (magic user) during an attack, P.U.P.I is called in to find what really happened.

The case centers around an attempted rape and this really gets under Bonita's skin. She's so free and open with her sexuality that someone using sex as a weapon to hurt someone haunts her. Her emotional reaction to men, including those she works with, after having to magically experience the crime, left me distraught for her.

Bonita and Ben. Obvious attraction and the expected fighting against said attraction for the sake of a working relationship. In Pack of Lies, they are forced to confront their feelings. As their magically connection grows deeper, readers will be excited by the possibilities.

Pack of Lies continues where Hard Magic left off. The P.U.P.I.s have a little more training under their belts, but not much in the way of experience. The straightforward case twists and turns until nothing is what it seems. The P.U.P.I.s unravel a surprising mystery while growing closer as a group. Pack of Lies is not to be missed by urban fantasy fans looking for a great mystery.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I read the first book in this series, Hard Magic in August of 2014, and I'm having trouble remembering a lot of the plot and specifics regarding the characters. It was a pleasant enough read, but definitely felt light. In fact, I even recommended it for those looking for lighter Urban Fantasy fare. After reading this book, I'm not sure I'd stick by that recommendation. This book goes to a much darker place.

*Trigger Warning*
This book contains an attempted rape, murder, and related consequences - including emotional from multiple characters, as well as discussion of and scenes involving rape culture, and victim-blamimg.

Rape is a pretty sensitive subject for me. It's not a trigger, per se, of mine, it's just so often handled badly in books with no regards to actual healing and trauma caused by attempted or actual rape; which means that I generally avoid books that have rape. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - I didn't know that it was such a central issue in this book. I may have avoided reading this book had I known, but I would have missed out on one of the best depiction of this subject I've read yet. I can count on one hand the number of books, or series, I've read that handled it with as much consideration and delicacy and care as this one.

To give a bit more description of what's going on with the case, since the blurb is so incredibly vague: PUPI (Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigators) is called in by the Council to investigate a scene where an attempted rape took place, and the woman's companion (a magical being called a ki-rin - which I'll talk more about later) killed the attacker. Tensions between fatae, the race of magical beings including the ki-rin, and humans have been escalating and this seems to be tinder on the embers that have already been burning. PUPI needs to verify what happened, and quickly, before things intensify out of control.

This aspect of the story was so well done. As I said earlier, it was handled with care. The trauma wasn't brushed under the rug, the difficulties for our investigators to actually investigate and remain somewhat impartial, the accusations that crop up both for and against victims, it's all there - sometimes it's not pretty, often it's not, but Laura Anne Gilman doesn't shy away from it at all. I will warn that it doesn't end on a particularly upbeat note. My heart broke more than once while I was reading, and even when I finished I had to agree with one of the characters that said "This job sucks." Yes, yes it does. Especially in cases like this. I ... appreciated how things are tied up. My one complaint about this aspect of the novel is that, considering how well the author handles the subject of rape, there's some - very justifiable - doubt about the victims' claims. I'd have liked things a little more clean, I guess, but life isn't usually neat and tidy.

One of the things I was having trouble remembering when I started this book was the characters and the details about them. I recognized their names when I read them, but couldn't remember much about their particular powers within the group. I do think Ms. Gilman did a pretty damn good job of bringing me back up to speed, but I'm still a little in the dark on a couple of characters. There's Ian Stosser and Benjamin Venec - they're the "Big Dogs," the bosses. They formed PUPI and are committed to being a company that finds the truth. Bonnie, whose head we're usually in throughout the book, is a great character. She's a lot more subtle than most heroines these days, and a lot less flashy. I came to really appreciate that in this book - more than I did even in the previous one. Also, she's bisexual and it's such a non-issue. I cannot even tell you how much I love and appreciate that.

The other main characters: Sharon, the truth-seeker; Nick, the hacker; Pietr, the retriever; and then there's Nifty, or Lawrence - I'm not sure what his speciality is. I'm sure he has one, but damned if I know right now. These are all great, individual characters with their own tics and issues. We learn a bit more, slowly, and I'm loving it. Additionally, the apparent romance is heating up nicely. I wasn't sure I was a fan in the first book, but here ... yeah, I think I am.

This book does so many things well, and this review is already getting so long, that I'm going to stop before it gets out of control. But I have to mention that I love the lack of slut-shaming, the fact that Bonnie stands up for herself and her choices and doesn't let anyone make her feel badly for her sexual activity.

Before I started writing this review I wasn't sure what I was going to rate it, but I think it's become clear that this is a solid series that's gaining steam. I'll definitely be picking up the third book to see what's going to happen next.
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