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Omens: Cainsville #1    by Kelley Armstrong order for
by Kelley Armstrong
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kelley Armstrong, author of the very popular Women of the Otherworld series, as well as the thrilling YA Darkness Rising and Darkest Powers trilogies, now embarks on something a little different in Omens, first in her engrossing Cainsville series, which successfully blends mystery and magic.

The story opens as the immaculate life of twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones is turned upside down. The sole daughter of a wealthy Chicago family, this pretty socialite engages in volunteer work and is engaged to marry handsome young tech firm CEO James Morgan, who is about to run for junior senator. Suddenly, paparazzi engulf her, revealing that she was adopted and her birth parents are notorious serial killers - Todd and Pamela Larsen are currently each serving a life sentence in jail.

Deserted by her mother who flees to Europe (her adoptive father had already died), Liv breaks her engagement and tries to find a job, but this proves impossible in Chicago. Omens - and timely nudges from characters who prove magical in nature - send her to the unusual small town of Cainsville, Illinois, where she finds an apartment and work as a waitress. There she's contacted by her birth mother's former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, an amoral ambulance chaser who sees an opportunity in Liv's trust fund.

But gutsy Olivia is happy to make use of Gabriel just as much as he plans to exploit her. They make an effective team as they seek the truth behind the Larsens' murder convictions. They find Druidic links and a connection to CIA research into mind control. There are more deaths. Ravens hover and the good folk of Cainsville take a keen interest in unfolding events, especially the paranormal romance author who is very much older than he looks. Were the Larsens framed?

Kelley Armstrong lays strong series groundwork in Omens while keeping the action moving and the tension between her quirky characters high. She knows just how to hold reader interest with tantalising hints of what's ahead, and I very much look forward to reading it.

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