Meredith Nic Essus was once in line for the throne of Faerie, that of the Dark Fey. But after being assaulted by her Uncle Taranis, the King of the Light Fey, she was offered his throne as well, but the whole experience soured her on ever taking the throne. Offered the choice between the throne or the life of her lover, Frost, one of the fathers of her children, she chose Frost and turned her back on the succession forever.
Now, she lives in Southern California, with her guards and her lovers around her, but when a group of Demi-Fey are murdered and arranged into something out of a human fairytale book, the Police call her in to consult. She is able to tell them that the demi-fey would have had to have been drugged, because they are too fast and too strong for a human to kill more than one before the rest fled or retaliated.
She also discovers that one Fey witnessed the killing, and fled the scene. She has taken shelter in a coffee shop run by a brownie, and Meredith and her guards travel there to help the police talk to her. The Faerie is a demi-fey named Bittersweet, and she is extremely upset and doesn't want to talk to the merely human police, so Merry sits with her and shares some tea and cakes.
Questioning Bittersweet drives her into a rage of fear and hatred against the humans who killed the Demi-Fey and isn't that far from unleashing itself on the human police as well. But then Gilda, the Fairy Godmother, arrives and she calms Bittersweet down. Gilda used to be human, a wardrobe mistress, but somehow gained fey powers. She sees herself as a rival for the affections of the fey of Los Angeles with Meredith, or vice-versa, and basically banishes Meredith from the room.
Meredith, who honestly doesn't care about holding the loyalty of any Fae but her own people, leaves, but needs to sit down for a while, so she goes to a nearby Fae-run deli/cafe. As she sits and talks with the proprietor, the Paparazzi following her manage to break the window by leaning on it, nearly injuring Merry and the rest of the Fae there.
Retreating back to the beach house for the trip to the beach she wanted to take before she was called to the scene of the Demi-Fey's death, Merry deals with the injured feelings of some of her guards by proving to them she doesn't want to be their only lovers... by having sex with them. Because Queen Andais wouldn't let her guards take other lovers until she had slept with them at least once, and by doing this, Marry will reassure them in a way that all her words can't. She also ends up sleeping with Barinthus, another of her guards, and returns to him more of his powers over the sea. But when he has them, he displays a rather nasty attitude towards humans that shows she may have made a mistake in sleeping with him.
However, when another Fae death arranged to look like a scene from a human "fairy tale" book is discovered, Merry won't stop until she discovers who is killing these "lesser" fae and why. And is the killer a human using magic, or another fae with some kind of axe to grind? Could Gilda somehow be behind these killings, or is it someone else?
I usually like the Meredith Gentry stories, but this one was distinctly sub-par. Descriptions of characters are repeated over and over, and we hardly ever see any of Merry's baby fathers- not even Frost, who she supposedly gave up Queenship for. When Frost and Doyle do appear, they are limited to mostly rote responses that reveal nothing new about their characters. And we are again treated to Merry's magic enhancing orgasm, which gifts Barinthus with enough power to be an asshole, and another guard with his own sithen.
Another disappointment was the number of misspellings and general lack of editing that just disgusted me. Whenever authors think they are big enough and popular enough with readers to get away with no editing of their work, it goes to crap. It happened to J.K. Rowling (Don't even get me started on Deathly Hallows and the saga of three people arguing endlessly in a magical tent) and its definitely happening with Ms. Hamilton. Whoever edited this book deserves beating with a cat o'nine tails. And for a book that supposedly is supposed to be about Merry and company returning to being detectives, damn little detecting goes on- the name of the killer is revealed to Merry by an associate of the killers. So, no detection there.
This book feels overwritten, under-edited and just a mess. It's not much fun to read. With the subtraction of the political stuff that went on with Merry possibly in line to succeed to one throne of Faerie, a great deal of tension is subtracted with nothing interesting to replace it. And sex is great, but this is just pointless sex that adds zip to the story, Laurell K. Hamilton can do much, much better. This is not better. It's not even much good. Not recommended.