Princess of Wands by John Ringo
Trust a woman to get the job done.
John Ringo is known for his thrilling depiction of combat and the future weapons of war, and for the creation of steely-jawed heroes and loathsomely inhuman creatures born either to battle against humans, or fight at their sides. In Princess of Wands, however, Ringo takes a sidestep into the swamps of Louisiana to present a warrior of a different kind.
Barbara Everett is a sweet lady. A devout Christian, she believes it is her duty to stay at home, keeping the house clean and her family nourished in both the physical and the spiritual sense. Her hobby, though, is martial arts, and in her modest way, Barb has become a master at "all forms and all attacks". She's a good wife and Mom, but she's at the end of her rope with managing her children (and her husband's drinking problem). She's off to Louisiana for the weekend to find peace and sample Cajun food.
Detective Sergeant Kelly Lockhart is a skinny graying fellow trying desperately to find a clue in a vicious series of rape/murder crimes that police fear may be the actions of a cult. His hunt for a person of interest takes him to Madame Charlotte, a fortune-teller who warns him to find the "sign of the princess" if he wants to survive his search in Cajun country. One look at the too-small "Aloof Elven Princess" t-shirt stretched tight across Barbara's well-endowed figure, and Kelly suspects he's found his sign. Her familiarity with firearms and other arts of self-defense merely confirms his hunch.
Almadu is a demon. His latest attempt to break through to our world is the root cause of the case police call the Bayou Ripper. He's collecting the souls of those slain by his followers; three more and he wins the toaster. And humanity — especially Christians — is his idea of toast.
The intersection of these three deep in the bayous of Louisiana is simply the beginning of a roller-coaster ride of epic proportions. Before they are done, Kelly and Barbara will need to battle Almadu's cult members in the swamps and also in the halls of a resort hotel during a sci-fantasy convention. With the help of a Wiccan and several gaming, technical and hocus-pocus-style wizards, they will fight the good fight against the evil demon. And once they're done, Barb will really have to do something about her home life...
John Ringo's heroine is a winner, so I hope we see more of Barb and her partner Kelly Lockhart. I was impressed with the way he was able to keep Barb sweet and Christian without making her mushy or preachy, and how well she and Kelly worked together without becoming sexually involved. Well-done all around, and a joy to read!