No Humans Involved, by Kelley Armstrong
July 11, 2007
I have to admit that I wasn’t thrilled when I heard that Kelley Armstrong’s next book was going to be about Jamie Vegas. The celebrity spiritualist/necromancer was entertaining at times as a supporting character, but I didn’t think she could carry a novel – at least not without being annoying.
So I was pleasantly surprised to find that No Humans Involved worked for me. I should have remembered that Armstrong’s characters often seem different (and more sympathetic) in their own books.
In the story, Jamie is hired to work with other spiritualists on a television special about Hollywood ghosts. She has to keep up her performance while using her real powers to investigate a mystery, and of course the drama comes up during a highly anticipated visit from werewolf alpha Jeremy.
The plot was good and fast-paced, but the setup was what really made this book stand out. I enjoyed the television show angle, the other spiritualist characters, and all of Jamie’s professional interactions. I also loved Armstrong’s insight into the techniques of television psychics, and was glad that Jamie’s act was focused on entertainment instead of using either cold reading tricks or her abilities to exploit people.
It was nice for a change to have a heroine that wasn’t super strong or didn’t have really versatile powers. Jamie is the best at what she does, but her specialty is a narrow one. That makes even slight supernatural trouble more dangerous for her than for most of the other characters. Her struggle to prove herself despite her limitations led to some questionable decisions, but also made the story more interesting.
It was nice to see Jeremy outside of his alpha role. I’ve read some reviews by people who thought he was out of character in this book, but I can’t say I agree with them. The book repeatedly emphasized the idea that his life was usually dominated by his responsibilities, so I don’t think it’s strange at all that he’d be different as Jeremy than as the Werewolf Alpha.
There wasn’t anything I disliked about this book enough to bother bringing up. I’d recommend it to anyone intrigued by the idea of a lower-powered character or a television psychic with real powers. Those who have read the rest of the series will obviously get more out of No Humans Involved, but I don’t think it’s really necessary to enjoy the book. Those who have been through the complete series and want to read things in order may want to try Armstrong’s story in the Dates From Hell anthology first, it introduces a new character who appears in No Humans Involved.