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Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations) Paperback – April 20, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Spinning off a minor character from the Retrievers books (Staying Dead, etc.), Gilman launches an entertaining new series set in her Cosa Nostradamus world of magic-using Talented humans. Following up on a mysterious job lead, college grad Bonita Torres joins the Private Unaffiliated Paranormal Investigations (PUPI), a freelance CSI-style unit for Talent-related crimes. The puppies refine and practice spells until they get their first big case: an apparent double suicide. As they follow the evidence, trail and interrogate suspects, and defend themselves against attacks, the investigators develop comfortable and engaging team dynamics and create the field of forensic magic. Gilman's deft plotting and first-class characters complement her agile blend of science and spell craft, and readers will love the Mythbusters-style fun of smart, sassy people solving mysteries through experimentation, failure, and blowing stuff up. (May)
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About the Author

Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the Nebula award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket, as well as the YA trilogy GRAIL QUEST for Harper. Her first story collection is DRAGON VIRUS and she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres. Follow her at @LAGilman or www.lauraannegilman.net


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Product Details

  • Series: Paranormal Scene Investigations
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Luna; Original edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0373803133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373803132
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book was so original and entertaining. Although there really wasn't much action, or suspense until near the end, the whole premise of the book was entertaining enough not to need it. Bonnie is thrown into this group to try to help solve crimes commited by Talents (regular people who can use current to do magic).

Bonnie and the rest of the team spend alot of time trying to figure out how to take regular CSI routines, and find a magical way to perform them, to find magical clues. Once they get a case it's all on the line as they have to use those new spells to prove that a high-profile suicide was actually a high-profile murder. If they can't solve this one than Bonnie's new career, and only source of income, will disappear.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. They are all regular people with their own strengths, but put together in this group all of their strengths blend well to make a really great team. With only a little bit of sexual tension, and not much romance, it was a great investigation book. I'm excited for the next in the series since it was left wide open with alot of different directions that it could go. I definitely recommend this one.
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Format: Paperback
I loved Hard Magic. It wasn't particularly thrilling or suspenseful, but so supremely interesting that I could not put it down. The set-up, the characters and the concept all screamed originality. Laura Anne Gilman put forth some good, old-fashioned creativity that made the story something different and therefore something special.

Magic users (aka Talent) can create any type of spell by using basic scientific logic. The team, P.U.P.I (Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations), uses these spells to find and analyze forensic evidence while investigating Talent on Talent crime.

I really enjoyed Gilman's method of naming the characters. Instead of over the top magically showy names, each character has an average Joe name. Bonnie, Ben, Nick. It relates well with the concept that these characters are average people, just with the ability to use magic. Each character on the team has their own strengths and weaknesses that they offer the group, making each better suited for different aspects of an investigation. Bonnie is a refreshing main character. While the book didn't have any blatantly sexual scenes, we learn that Bonnie is very comfortable with her sexuality. She's not one to be labeled, but she does like both men and women based on their personalities rather than their genitals. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a character not hung up on sexual morality while reading a book without explicit sex scenes.

I'm excited there is going to be further books building on what's started in Hard Magic as the story could really be taken anywhere. I'm interested to see if the focus shifts to more mystery or if it remains on the magical aspect of the investigations. Either way, Hard Magic is a fantastic start to a new series.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
thought this book looked promising when I read the blurb but after having finished it I have to say that I felt rather disappointed.

Bonnie, the heroine spends most of the time in the book either thinking about the sex-factor of her male encounters, having a monologue about how clueless she (or the entire team for that matter) is, or bickering with someone.

Actually, that is what the team is doing most of the time, bickering. The book reminds me of that rather disappointing TV-series, Alphas, which also had promise but was ruined by the totally amateurish behavior of everyone and the constant bickering.

I never really felt any connection to the lead person and in the end I really did not care whether they solved anything or not. The case itself was really a “cold-case” as well and in the end there was not much of triumph or real conclusion in the form of an apprehended killer or anything.

I think this is a series that I will not continue reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Laura Anne Gilman returns us to the magical New York of her Retrievers series - a world in which there are Talents - individuals who can manipulate 'current' (electrical energy) to perform magic. Hard Magic takes a step back in time as we see how Bonnie, a 20-something, paranormal investigator and eventual next door neighbor to Wren, gets her start in the investigating biz.

I did enjoy Hard Magic though as a series starter there are some growing pains. The mystery - an apparent dual suicide with no mundane evidence of murder - takes a backseat to teambuilding and Forensic Magic 101, as Gilman sets the stage and introduces the cast. Bonnie is as interesting and likable as she was in the Retrievers book - although she is a bit too much 'on the make' here for me, she pretty much considers every new character (male or female) as they're introduced as a potential bed partner - I hope Gilman tails back on this a bit.

Keeping the background story pretty lightweight, Gilman focuses her effort in character development. She manages to create distinct supporting players in Bonnie's powerful and intriguing bosses, Bonnie's mentor, and in Bonnie's many and varied teammates each with their various magical and personal strengths. And Gilman also spends some time starting to build the relationships between the team members of the fledgling agency.
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