Thursday, February 9, 2017

High School and other torments

I may have mentioned some of this while discussing Mercedes Lackey in previous posts. However, here we are with the final stand alone book of her rather underappreciated Diana Tregarde Investigations series, Jinx High. (There are two that precede this one, but Burning Water takes forever to get going, and Children of the Night is set about two decades prior to either of the other two novels, and it also takes too damn long to get going. Both are great once you hit the halfway point, but... Diana also shows up in a short story in the collection Werehunter and in a collection of novellas Trio of Sorcery. I guess there are a few .pdfs out there that collect or rework some of it, but yeah.)

I happened to find a copy at a used book store a while back, and grabbed it, since the series has been out of print for a while. (I guess it did get reprinted a few years back, but trying to find the original series prior to those reprints was like looking for hen's teeth. Unless you felt like paying big money for a used copy online.)

Anyway, we'll return to the drama surround this series here in a minute.

We'll start with Diana herself, a romance writer by trade, who also has access to Guardian powers in time of great need, particularly for protecting innocents. This one would appear to be set in the late 80's, since there is a Dan Quayle reference as well as a "Just Say No" moment. Diana had a group of people she worked with during her time at Harvard known as the Spook Squad. Novels #1 and #3 focus on former members of the Squad calling on Diana because something fairly major needs outside help. In Burning Water, it was an Aztec deity trying to make a return. In this one, Larry, AKA Kosmic Kid, has a kid involved with some seriously wonky stuff.

Deke, the child in question, has a sort of girlfriend named Faye, who's quite adept and pulling people into her web with sex and drugs. Faye's mother is institutionalized prior to the start, after having tried to kill Faye. Something's a bit off with Faye, as we note at the outset that she causes a car accident that leaves physically impossible results. Like one kid dead, no drugs in anyone's systems, and everyone but the dead girl buckled in. None of which was the case before the car hit a tree at 70 miles per hour. That Faye, who was driving, seems to have vanished from the car right prior to the crash, also adds to the mystery.

Diana ends up in Jenks, Oklahoma, (just outside Tulsa), after Larry calls her to tell her he's got the distinct feeling someone is out to get his son. (Larry's wife is in Japan on business and essentially out of contact.) Due to the numer of accidents happening in the area, yuppie haven Jenks' Secondary school has picked up the nickname "Jinx High". Diana comes in to help teach the business of writing on behalf of the Honors English teacher.

We as readers get more of the plot a heck of a lot faster than Diana does, and halfway through, we know that Faye is actually her mother in a bodily switch. Actually, Faye goes back a little over 300 years, switching bodies with her daughters every generation, but ya know...

It eventually all works out in a rather nice climax, some of which has to do with not waking up whatever is sleeping under Tulsa. (Theory being there are no tornadoes in that section of Oklahoma because even the other gods don't want to wake it up.) Also, Tannim, the mage from SERRAted Edge and Bedlam's Bard shows up as a student.

Anyrate, After this one, there were no more Diana Tregarde mysteries. For the curious, there evidently was a bunch of real life drama that inspired the rant linked above, and a later follow up. I was actually kind of surprised when she started cowriting the Bedlam's Bard series in the 2000's that the Guardians started showing up again.

Also of note, the plot resembles a similar one from the first season of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. The book was published first, and based on the rants, didn't sell particularly well. And honestly, the plots go different directions, just using the same or similar plot device.

I'm happy I own this one, even if I prefer her other writing over this particular series. It's still worth checking out, since even at her worst, Lackey's work is more entertaining than many other things.