Demon Hunts by C. E. Murphy begins with a newly, if not confident, then grounded, Joanne Walker. She and Billy have teamed up as the official unofficial paranormal arm of the Seattle Police Force with Morrison’s blessing. They’re investigating an unusual serial murder with the characteristics of human bites and no forensic evidence, only Joanne and Billy can’t sense anything either. Joanne stretches her abilities, and curses her earlier balking, to discover new ways to use her shamanistic powers and learn about her role in this crazy life with the help of friends old and new.
If you want specifics and to discover the end…well, you’ll just have to read it yourself.
Through no fault of its own, it took me a while to read Demon Hunts, but once I started reading, I moved through the story quite quickly. This is the fifth in a series that I have been reading since the very first book became available. However, I think this one stands out in a way that the others didn’t because it shows the series is maturing. Though not a complete reboot with a new cast of characters or anything complicated like that, Demon Hunts shows us a new side of Joanne Walker. Her unbelieving self had become a little bit implausible. Not enough to affect my enjoyment, but hard to sustain over additional books. In Demon Hunts, C. E. Murphy opens us to a new phase in the story. Joanne is no longer a disbeliever. She has come to accept the powers that she’s been using quite successfully, if in her own bumbling way, to save Seattle over and over again. This time, however, she has chosen not to fight herself first. She has come to realize that fighting her facts is useless, counterproductive, and likely to get those around her killed.
For the character, this book is one of maturity. She’d been through a lot in the series, and everything is coming together for her. Does this mean her path is easy? Not at all. This novel has everything that I’ve come to expect from the series: an unknown mythical enemy, friends in odd places, and growth in Joanne’s understanding of her shamanistic magic. But that’s not all. What demon hunts offers the reader is a Shaman ready to take on and accept the life that was given her. While I enjoyed Joanne’s use of analogy and understood her difficulty with believing in a destiny that she’d been unaware of for so long, I look forward to seeing more of this new Joanne. While confident is not quite the right word, she has a complexity to her now. Not only has she stopped seeking simple answers, but she has declared herself ready to grow, ready to learn all those things that she balked at before. She also gained some new allies and developed new techniques that are just fun.
Because of her changes, this is essentially a new series set in the same world. I’m sure there will be times that I will miss the old Joanne, though I suspect that there will be times that Joanne will be unable to maintain her new maturity as well. On the other hand, it takes more to maintain an interesting series than a pattern of events. That seems to me how many series go wrong. By taking Joanne’s character to the next level, I think the series now has new life built into it. I also felt that this was an opportunity for new readers to join the series. Yes, a lot has happened before, some of which warrants reference in the book, but if you accept that there was life before this story began, I think those references may encourage people to check out the backlist, but shouldn’t make this book impossible to read and enjoy.
Oh, and one last comment which I am deliberately obscuring to avoid spoilers: the trouble in this story offers an interesting philosophical statement when you consider the demons and gods Joanne has faced in the past.
So, whether you’ve read the earlier Walker Papers or not, this is a wonderful read.