The first title in Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s Divine series, Divine Intervention is an action-packed, Canadian crime fantasy: the plot revolves around sexy Agent Jasmine McClellan, a “fire-reader” who works for an ultra-secret division within the Canadian Federal Bureau of Investigation. Jasi’s talent as a pyro-psychic makes her the lead investigator on two disturbing arson cases, in which three people—a foster mother and a child in her care, as well as a prominent doctor—have been killed. Although the fires occur in different locations in British Columbia, there appears to be a link between them, and Jasi must find it before another victim gets burned.
With the backing of the Divine Ops organization and its mysterious founder, Matthew Divine, Jasi and her colleagues, gorgeous Natassia Prushenko and the equally easy-on-the-eyes Ben Roberts, try desperately to sort through the ash and debris. Each of the agents has a psychic role: Jasi can enter the aftermath of a deadly fire and read the arsonist’s thoughts as the act is committed, while victim empath Natassia goes deep into the mind of the recently deceased (providing there are bodily remains) and ferrets out last thoughts and impressions.
Ben, a psychometric empath, is an expert profiler and a mind reader, so long as he can touch his subjects with his bare hands. While these gifts should make solving the crime a snap, the team keep running into cold leads, chasing the proverbial wild goose. They don’t have much time: in Jasi’s vision, the killer possesses a list of people to do in next. To make matters worse, the murdered doctor just happens to be the father of the province’s head of government—and Premier Allan Baker is not a man to tangle with.
Taut and action-packed, this novel really doesn’t give the reader room to breathe. In fact, it’s so fast-paced that sometimes I had to blink and wonder how the characters had jumped so rapidly from building elevator to helipad, from taxicab to hotel… and just who was speaking that last line of dialogue, again? These detractions are slight, however, and I particularly enjoyed the high-tech gadgetry at the disposal of Divine Ops. While the story is set in the present day, the world of Divine Intervention has been rocked by the so-called Parliament Murders and the assassination of the prime minister in 2008. This brought about a whole new dimension to national security and the field of forensics, and Jasi and her team have full use of all the goodies, including the nifty hovercraft-like X-Disc Pro, which scans crime scenes and gathers evidence of bodily fluids and other traces.
In case the whole crime-solving business isn’t enough to hook you in, Tardif throws in plenty of sexual banter between Jasi and her liaison, the super-hot (of course) and slightly obnoxious Chief of Arson Investigations, Brandon Walsh. The steamy romance angle is predictable, fun, and provides some relief from the frantic race to find the serial arsonist.
Divine Intervention’s snappy dialogue and clever twisting plot combine for a highly entertaining read, as the book presses beyond standard “psychic detective” fare with its depictions of advanced technology and characters with highly specialized talents. This is a whodunit in the grandest sense, defying the reader to catch the killer before Jasi does (I failed!). Setting the book in B.C.’s interior and coastal regions is a special treat, and is beautifully rendered by Tardif. I’m certainly psyched to read the next book, especially as there is the matter of the ghost child that is haunting Jasi’s dreams and seems to be leading her on to the next case….
Tardif’s second novel in the series, Divine Justice, was released in May of this year.