Mark of the Demon by Diana Rowland is an urban fantasy told in the first person perspective of Detective Kara Gillian. She’s hunting the Symbol Man, a serial killer who’s returned to her small hometown of Beaulac, Louisiana.
There are twelve ranks of demons that can be summoned, not counting the demon lords because trying to summon one of those is suicidal. The book starts with Kara having just summoned a reyza, the highest rank of demon (again, not counting a lord) and thus becoming a full-fledged summoner. Of course, some idiot thief picks that exact moment to break into her house.
Not all the demon ranks are described, but the ones that are are interesting sounding. Excepting Rhyzkahl, the demon lord Kara encounters, who’s just described as human-looking but perfect, stunningly beautiful, really long hair, etc. To me, this was kinda boring. I suppose it explains why Kara sleeps with him though.
There were two sex scenes within the first fourth of the book, despite which I kept reading, both with Rhyzkahl, a demonic lord. Also, I don’t buy sleeping with someone outside your species, and who’d just threatened to kill you and who tried to mindfuck you, no matter how lonely you were. To me at least, it makes to heroine look stupid, especially given the menace and power she says Rhyzkahl exuded. And Kara herself says all demons are completely self-serving. So yeah, not a good first impression.
So the Symbol Man tortures his victims to death and marks them with a symbol, hence the name. Kara, using her othersight, figures out this is a means of gathering and storing power. The bodies are found with precise cut or burn marks all over them. The wounds are described in just enough detail to leave the horror to the reader’s imagination, which to me is the best way to go about that.
I mostly enjoyed the book and am glad I stuck through the few times I didn’t. The book ends in a satisfying manner, with hints that Agent Ryan Krisoff—the second love interest of the book, though it’s slow-played—is more than he seems, even to himself. A nice plot hook for the next book. I’ll be reading the next in the series after I whittle down my current to-be-read pile.