Dark and Gritty, with Plenty of Mystery and Treachery: Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan Novels

Dark and Gritty, with Plenty of Mystery and Treachery: Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan Novels

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I don’t have anything against urban fantasy and paranormal romance… but for a very long time, it seemed like the fantasy shelves of my local bookstore were buried in the stuff. So it was easiest to ignore it all, good and bad, and just come back when the dust had settled.

Well, at long last, it seems like the tide of urban fantasy has receded a bit, which means it may be safe to go back in the waters. I’m interested in cherry-picking the most popular and acclaimed series out there — and also, naturally, the ones with the best covers.

Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan series certainly fits all of my criteria. Publishers Weekly called it a “Standout Series,” and Romantic Times called the opening novel, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, “dark and gritty, with plenty of mystery and treachery . . . . An excellent start to an electrifying new series!” The series ran for four volumes between 2009-2012, all published in paperback by Pocket Books.

[Click any of the images to embiggen.]

The books in the series are:

The Better Part of Darkness (2009)
The Darkest Edge of Dawn (2010)
The Hour of Dust and Ashes (2011)
Shadows Before the Sun (2012)

All four have covers by the great Chris McGrath.

Here’s the back covers of the first three volumes:

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Perhaps what I find most intriguing about these books is the science fiction feel to them. They’re set in Atlanta, which has become a sanctuary city for two separate species of off-worlders, and where cop Charlie Madigan keeps the peace with a glowy-green sidearm. Mind you, the “off-worlders” in this case are visitors from alternate dimensions, the heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon, and Charlie has died at least once before the series opens…. but still, it’s a nice departure from the usual Buffy-inspired stew of vampires and werewolves.

The paperback editions are out of print, but the digital versions are still available — as are remaindered versions of the paperbacks, for those of you willing to hunt around a bit.

See all of our recent coverage of the best series fantasy here.

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