Night’s Black Agents

Paxton Locke Book 2

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 customer ratings
(2 customer reviews)
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Night’s Black Agents
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Paxton got the crap kicked out of him foiling his mother’s plans, but even that isn’t enough to keep him in one place.

Mother is still on the loose after all, and there’s no telling what that evil witch is up to. With his new partner (don’t call her a sidekick!) Cassie, Paxton heads to Arizona to help an old police friend with a supernatural murder problem.

But Mother isn’t content to lay low now that she’s out of jail. She’s got a brand new coven, and she wants her grimoire back. Now. Nothing will stop her from getting her spellbook back, not even her son. Or the ancient stirring in its sleep in the Valley of the Sun.

Paxton’s faced witches, ghosts, and shadow demons, but can he handle an ancient god? With the lives of two young boys hanging in the balance, he can’t back down.

Daniel Humphreys continues the Paxton Locke series out in the desert, taking all the magic, intrigue and adventure from Book One and turning it up to eleven. Readers will love the return of old characters, and love the new additions as Paxton continues his supernatural road trip.

Find out if Paxton can save the day and face Mother again. Read Night’s Black Agents today!

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Daniel Humphreys

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Daniel Humphreys continues the Paxton Locke series out in the desert, taking all the magic, intrigue and adventure from Book One and turning it up to eleven. Readers will love the return of old characters, and love the new additions as Paxton continues his supernatural road trip.

2 reviews for Night’s Black Agents

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  1. Benjamin I. Espen (verified owner)

    Have I said I’m a sucker for any book that mentions my hometown, Flagstaff, Arizona, even in passing? Paxton and his not-quite-girlfriend Cassie do simply pass through Flagstaff, as it is the junction between I-40 and I-17, on their way from Wisconsin to Arizona. Since that isn’t likely to matter to everyone else, let me also say that this book was a lot of fun. Paxton is very much the kid I wanted to be when my friends were into LARPing as vampires and werewolves. I just wanted to cleanse the Earth of foul creatures, not to be one.

    Following the events of Fade, Paxton Locke is looking for a return to the familiar. So he seeks out Kent Sikora, the detective who took Pax under his wing following Paxton’s mother’s ritual murder of his father. Kent himself understandably needed a change of scenery after those events, so he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona.

    Unfortunately for both of them, something is stirring in the Sonoran desert. When Kent asks Paxton to come and help, they both assume it is just a kidnapping case. Neither of them know what they are getting themselves into. Paxton probably should, since he can’t even eat a greasy spoon without stumbling onto a servant of nameless evil, but I guess a little bit of denial is pretty normal even for him.

    Plus, now that Paxton’s mother is on the loose rebuilding her power, and the secretive Division M is tracking both Paxton and Helen Locke, we’ve got a great setup for a multi-sided power struggle. One involving magic and explosions.

    I rather enjoyed the different dynamics of each group, who have different motivations and personalities within them. Helen’s coven is founded in thirst for power and deception, while Division M has some the bureaucracy of its paymasters. Introducing so many new characters really pays off, as everyone reveals bits of the plot as they pursue their own goals along multiple overlapping paths. It all needs to be seen to be believed, so come along for the ride as Paxton tries to unravel the mystery in Phoenix.

    The Paxton Locke books would be a good candidate for a modern version of Appendix N, along with the Gideon Ira books. I see each series as part of the tradition of adventure fiction marketed for men, fantastic adventures with a strong sense of justice. Much like Three Hearts and Three Lions, one of the foundational concepts of Humphreys’ world is orientation to Law or Chaos. In general, the human world is one of Law, even though individual humans may be more or less strongly attached to the laws per se. Chaos, on the other hand, is the pole of eldritch horror and swirling darkness, the home of unspeakable horrors that would devastate the Earth and stock their larders with any survivors.

    Magical creatures as such tend toward Chaos, but not all of them are evil. Often, they are just capricious. Humans tend toward Law, but when humans are in conflict with one another, that tends towards the ends of the foul things lurking in the dark. All of this is mostly invisible to the people of Earth, who only find out otherwise if something goes wrong.

    Since I really like that kind of story, I really like this embodiment of it. I like Paxton’s sense of humor, and his nerdishness. I find his motivations understandable, even if sometimes less than noble. He is, after all, just a kid who was thrust into circumstances beyond his control, but also gifted with remarkable power. The fun lies in seeing what he does with it.

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  2. declanfinninc (verified owner)

    Fade was a fun variant of everything you love about Harry Dresden. Magic used in inventive ways. Much snark. Solid fight scenes.

    And now, we have the sequel. I genuinely waited for book three to be near completion before I reviewed it.

    Why? We’ll get to that.

    The book has two arcs. One is a subplot detailing the travails of Mother Dearest after her escape from supermax in the last novel — as well as the hunt by Humphreys own version of the Monster Control Bureau — only with a different mission.

    Our main plot follows Paxton hot on the trail of a magical murderer. The book opens only a week after the end of Fade. (Even Harry Dresden gets more time to rest.) And it begins with “I was halfway through a stack of pancakes when the dead guy walked in the door.” Probably the best opening line since “The building was on fire, but it wasn’t my fault.” (Yes, I hate to open with comparing it to a line from The Dresden Files, but really, it’s one of the few works I can compare it to. One of the lines in the novel is literally “With the exception of magic, the only real talent I had was taking a beating.” — tell me that doesn’t sound like a Jim Butcher line.)

    We open with a random encounter … which will become less random over time. Because this random encounter sees Paxton for what he is, and sees him as a snack.

    And this is just the opening.

    There are a lot of “oh crap” moments like this scattered throughout my notes. Looking at notes I made on the kindle, many of my comments even at the start of the book are “Oy.” “Oh crap,” “Aw f***”, and “What do you mean she has groupies!?” et al. (By the way, a line for Larry Correia fans: “Forensic accounting, it seemed, was a class of sorcery all its own.”)

    It’s even worse when Mother Dearest turns into Kilgrave from Jessica Jones, only creepier.

    And all these comments are from Chapter 1. It just gets better from there.

    Of course, Dan has great lines to put a backspin on tropes. As Paxton describes his world: “Sheer moments of terror followed by hours of law enforcement shouting.” And there are a bunch of re-purposed lines from classic Star Wars (as opposed to EU novel Star Wars, as we all know, there were no other films). And all of the one-liners are fun: “an orphaned teenager with sudden-onset wizard syndrome was a fertile field for the corrupting possibility of power,” or even the casual “Buddy, you’re about the ninth worst thing I’ve seen this week.”

    Now, I really must compliment Dan on making an interesting federal agency to hunt black magic. These are obviously fictional feds, as the characters are colorful, interesting and entertaining. Also, to add to the humor, they’re attached to ATF (or BATFE, if you want to be picky). I guess black magic is a sort of firearm. They have their own R and D section, complete with the sort of mad tinkerers you’d expect to be working in Q’s lab.

    Hell, to be perfectly honest, while I tend to skip the sections on the villains (which is a mistake I made for the Honor Harrington series… oops) Humphreys manages to make these sections readable and tolerable, but more importantly, relevant to the plot as a whole. This is the point where Humphreys fits in magical mechanics in a way that doesn’t make your eyes bleed. Hell, who am I kidding, he actually takes the time and effort to MAKE MAGIC MAKE SENSE. (I’m not naming names, JK Rowling). Mother turns into a little bit of a Final Fantasy villain, but it makes more sense in book 3.

    Not to mention that the Mother subplot is put to great effect when the villain of the week is enough to make her nervous.

    And the feds hunting Mother actually serves to tie the main arc plot very neatly back to the primary plot for the individual novel. Overall, it’s a great balance of series arc and book plot.

    (If the author is reading this review, I just got to this exchange

    “So, what, you think this is the end of the world?”
    “Maybe. Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. Fire and brimstone.”

    Ahem…. smartass).

    Humphreys does a great job of slow world building. Just casual references to gremlins on satellites, or magical abilities of X or Y person.

    Now here comes the boom.

    This ends on a cliffhanger.

    Imagine the first time you ever saw The Empire Strikes Back.

    Now imagine if it stopped with Luke dangling in mid-air in Cloud city, Han is still frozen in carbonite, and the last we see of the Millennium Falcon, it was being chased by TIE-fighters into the clouds.

    That’s what the end of this book felt like. My last note on the book is two words, and they are often favored by Samuel L. Jackson.

    Don’t worry. Book three is already out. So if you haven’t read Night’s Black Agents yet, you won’t have to wait a year for the awesome conclusion.

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