Gay, Kelly: The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan) (2009)

Cover art by Christian McGrath

There is something about Charlie that I find appealing. Her life is a mess in so many respects, but she, herself, is a really decent person. Kelly’s writing is, of course, alpha and omega in making the series work and helping me like it. I find it amazing that this is actually Gay’s writing debut.

The Charlie Madigan series is an urban fantasy one. They are meant to entertain. There are issues that come up in the books that are important ones, but like most novels out there on the market this is for the general public and not an esoteric philosophical LSD audience (Ok, that might have been a bit mean).

As with a great deal of the other urban fantasies out there the Charlie Madigan has a male/female action team. Since both Hank and Charlie work together, have a bantering tone between them and look quite good – well …

In The Better Part of Darkness we find ourselves in an Atlanta city in a possible future where scientists have discovered two parallel planes of existence. Surprise, surprise, angels and demons do exist although not exactly in the heaven and hell version that we humans are so fond of. We have been visited by them for thousands of years and they have been using us and the earth as a battleground for working out their differences.

Now that humans know about them, we won’t put up with their nonsense any longer and have laid down the law for them. A police-department has been established dealing especially with extraterrestrials. They are called the ITF (Integration Task Force). Charlie Madigan is one of the officers working for the Department and her partner, Hank.

Pretty early on in The Better Part of Darkness, we find out that Charlie had a dead-then-alive experience that seems to be changing her physically.

Charlie’s partner, Hank, is a siren from Elysia. He has the kind of voice that needs to be dampened, otherwise men and women would throw themselves at his feet and do anything he asked of them. This comes in handy in police-work as people really want to tell him the truth.

Her daughter, Emma, is a highly intuitive child, one with a great degree of empathy. She goes to Hope Ridge, a school for rich kids. Charlie can’t afford it on her salary, but her ex-husband, Will, is paying for it.

When Charlie gets called to her daughters’ school (with her partner Hank) she becomes extremely worried. The victim is Emma’s old baby-sitter, Amanda Mott. At first thought dead, it turns out that Amanda is “just” in a coma of some kind. Making the situation a whole lot worse is the fact that there are several others who have been found like Amanda, and they have all died in the end. It seems all of them have been exposed to a new drug called “ash”. It’s extremely addictive and once it leaves a person’s system, they die.

This is the mystery Charlie and Hank are to investigate. As you might imagine unexpected twists and turns do appear. As stated above, Kelly Gay’s writing is of high quality and kept me reading until the end.


Awards/nominations

2009 SIBA Okra Pick
2010 SIBA Long List Book Award Finalist
2010 RITA finalist, Best First Book
2010 RITA finalist, Best Novel w/Romantic Elements


My reviews on books 1 (The Better Part of Darkness), 2 (The Darkest Edge of Dawn), 3 (The Hour of Dust and Ashes), and 4 (Shadows Before the Sun)

2 thoughts on “Gay, Kelly: The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan) (2009)”

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