A Wolf at the Door Author: K. A. Stewart Series: Jesse James Dawson 3 Publisher: Roc, August 7, 2012 Format: Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages List Price: $7.99 (print) ISBN: 9780451464637 (print) Review Copy: Reviewer's Own
Jesse James Dawson was once an ordinary man until he discovered that demons were real, and fighting them meant putting his own soul on the line. His new case is a beauty: Gretchen Keene, a Hollywood starlet who’s become an unwitting catalyst in an all-out demon war. It’s not her soul Jesse needs to protect, but the two-hundred-and-seventy-six others she’s carting around—all the souls sold to spend just one night with the blonde bombshell. That’s a lot of baggage, although it might explain her meteoric rise to fame. And it’s all up for grabs by the demon world.
All Jesse has to do is keep her safe until New Year's. Sounds easy. But darkness is casting a nasty shadow in the California sun—a new unseen enemy is closing in and leaving Jesse to wonder: how do you fight something you can’t see coming?
I do not usually read books that are somewhere further in a series – I prefer to read from the beginning of a series. A Wolf at the Door is actually the third book in the Jesse James Dawson series, and I wonder how I never discovered the first book, A Shot in the Dark. I have to give K. A. Stewart credit – while she starts off in the middle of the story, I would never have known this was not the start of a new series. She gives more than enough background information to fill me in on the events of the prior novels during the flow of this one. Kudos to her for that!
Jesse James Dawson is a champion – someone who fights demons for the souls of others. Somehow during the other novels, he would up owing a favor to a demon – without knowing what the favor was going to be, a rather dangerous notion. So when the demon appears to cash in his favor, Jesse has no choice. Even with a potential pregnancy for his wife on the horizon, he must leave immediately after Christmas to go to Hollywood and protect an actress – one who already has bargained her own soul away and has been collecting others for years.
Jesse expects not to like Gretchen, envisioning her as a spoiled, demanding star, and Gretchen initially lives up to that expectation. Two other bodyguards, Tai and Bobby, live and attend functions with Gretchen and are initially skeptical about the idea that demons exist and can harm humans. In particular, I liked Tai as a character. He is an aboriginal Maori, and as such, he apparently has magic running through his veins and is more closely connected to the supernatural than other races, yet he has spent his whole life discounting the old stories. His enlightenment and introduction to his powers is fun to watch.
I also enjoyed several other minor characters – the demon Axel, Gretchen’s best friend Dante, and the crazed homeless person, Felix. Stewart drops little details about each that positively draw the character before the readers’ eyes.
There is a whole level of “snarkiness” to Jesse – he reminds me tremendously of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden. He has this whole attitude of “I’m here to save the world but I’m going to drop sarcastic comments every chance I can get.” I particularly like Stewart’s description about his choice of T-shirts – each one with a sarcastic quip on the front.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed A Wolf at the Door. After being in a reading slump for the past two months, it was a pleasure to rip through this as quickly as possible to reach the end. Now I have to go back and snatch up the first two to see what I missed!