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A Barricade in Hell
by Jamie Lee Moyer
Tor, $25.99, 336pp
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
"A Barricade in Hell" works as a stand alone volume, but is the second of two paranormal romance mysteries featuring Delia Martin. I have not had the pleasure of reading the first book, "Delia's Shadow," which won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for fiction; but hope to in the near future, since I so enjoyed these characters that I would like the chance to learn more of the back story of how they came together.

This story takes place in 1917 in San Francisco . Delia is a privileged young lady who's happily married to police captain, Gabe Ryan. She has also been gifted, or some would say cursed, with the ability to see ghosts. Learning how to deal with this gift and trying to also cope with recently losing a baby, Delia tries to live a peaceful life with Gabe but, when the ghost of a young girl starts to haunt her and invades Gabe's dreams, that peaceful life is put to the test.

The author uses an interesting device for Delia's character. While the other characters interact and speak in the story, Delia's part and point of view is always told by her not the storyteller.

When Delia talks about trying to banish the ghost girl, you get a firsthand accounting of all her fear, frustration and fury at her inability to keep the ghost from trying to haunt Gabe.

While Delia is trying to deal with this, Gabe and his partner, Lieutenant Jack Fitzgerald, are covering two cases: a ritualistic murder, with clues pointing to the fact that this wasn't the first, and a slew of missing persons. Along the way, they start to come to the conclusion that these cases are connected and leading up to one suspect who has some connection to all involved. If this isn't bad enough, they also realize that there is a supernatural involvement that makes things so much more dangerous than anyone realized.

They enlist the help of Madam Isadora Bobet, a socialite medium and Delia's good friend, who serves as her teacher, mentor and guide through the world of ghosts and spirits. Delia and Dora give it their all to help Gabe and Jack solve this mystery with the help of a kitten named Mai, who believes she's a tiger; Sung Wing, a Tong leader and sorcerer from Chinatown; and Randy Dodd, a spiritually neutral rookie policeman. When dealing with demons and ghosts, thugs and crooked cops, are Delia and crew up to the task?

The story is well-crafted and the characters are colorfully written. Jamie Lee Moyer leaves you wanting to know more about her creations and what they'll do next. I enjoyed how she wrote Delia Martin in first person, while still telling a well-rounded story with the other characters. I so enjoyed the way this played out that I read all 331 pages in less than two days. It kept me well-entertained and wanting to see how it ended.

Though Tor lists this as a paranormal romance mystery, I would consider it a paranormal mystery, pure and simple. If you would normally not pick up a book because it's in the romance category, please don't let that deter you from reading this one. ~~ Dee Astell

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