Burning Water by Mercedes Lackey  science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsBurning Water by Mercedes Lackey  science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsBurning Water by Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes Lackey is best known for her VALDEMAR series, a multi-volume epic fantasy that is beloved by many fantasy readers. Some of Lackey’s legions of fans may not know that she also published an urban fantasy trilogy back in the late 80s and early 90s. It stars Diana Tregarde, a romance writer and practicing witch who solves magical murders and helps protect the world from evil supernatural beings. She is a Guardian.

In the first DIANA TREGARDE novel, Burning Water (1989), we meet Diana after her friend Mark Valdez, a police detective, asks for her help with a case. It involves the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, a photographer for a travel magazine, a fashion designer, four beautiful models, a serial killer, and mutilations of cattle. As they do the gumshoeing, asking all the weirdos they know about any supernatural goings-on, Diana and Mark, who happens to be a medium, eventually discover that an ancient Aztec god is involved. Tension escalates as the murders become more and more brazen. The Aztec god must be defeated.

A Diana Tragarde Investigation (3 book series) Kindle EditionBurning Water features likeable characters and is often entertaining despite some parts where the plot is predictable. There are several slow spots as Lackey gives us too much insight and background on the murder victims who are dispatched immediately after we learn about them. Also annoying is Lackey’s tendency (I’ve mentioned it many times before) to give us information by having her characters think it. I find this unnatural and clunky and it grates on my nerves, but not enough to keep me from continuing to read Lackey’s work.

Set in the late 1980s, Burning Water has a nostalgic feel for those of us who are old enough to remember that era. There is no internet or cell phones but there are ashtrays, modems, darkrooms, floppy disks, research excursions to the public library, sunken living rooms, valium, long distance phone calls, yuppies, newspaper vending machines, and AIDS. (Diana has a friend who suffers from AIDS and Lackey deals sensitively with this issue.)

Burning Water was interesting and entertaining enough to make me want to read the next DIANA TREGARDE book, Children of the Night. I’m reading Tantor Media’s new audio editions. Traci Odom was a good choice for narrator and gives a nice performance.

First edition published in 1989. Audio edition published in August 2019. Dallas Police Detective Mark Valdez isn’t just any cop, he’s a psychic who knows that the cattle mutilations and torture murders he’s been investigating are somehow tied together. He also knows that his meager psychic abilities aren’t enough to identify the killers, much less stop them. Luckily, Mark has an ace up his sleeve: an attractive young romance novelist who happens to be a practicing witch. And not just any witch, either – Diana Tregarde is a Guardian, charged with protecting the Earth and all its creatures. Using modern science and ancient magics, Diana and Mark discover that they are tailing no ordinary serial killer but the awakened avatar of an Aztec god. Tezcatlipoca and his four beautiful handmaidens are preparing for a great sacrifice that will transform North America into a new Aztec realm. Diana isn’t sure her powers are strong enough to take on those of a risen Aztec god, but she has no choice. As a Guardian, she is sworn to protect mankind, even at the cost of her own life. Luckily, she does not stand alone. Mark Valdez is more than just a cop. And Tezcatlipoca is not the only Aztec god walking in the world.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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