Our hero from the last book, Chad, is continuing his mission to be a Monster Hunting killing machine. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he has to leave Seattle, his home base in Grunge. After complaining -- a lot -- about never wanting to be in the heat ever again, MHI headquarters has the perfect gig for him: New Orleans. The Big Easy has got a lot of problems, and it needs all the help it can get.
Sinners does a great job of capturing the flavor of New Orleans, especially when you consider that standard policy can boil down to "Don't scare the tourists." Every local either believes in the dark arts, or practices the dark arts. Of course, we have at least one team member who really wants to turn every other beastie into jambalaya, shootouts in cities of the dead, and one massive shootout at marti gras.
Oh, yes, and for the record, Mr. Ringo, I saw what you did there with those chapter titles.
Another thing Ringo did better here than in Grunge is build an emotional connection to his teammates. At the end of Grunge, one of Chad's teammates dies. Listening to John Ringo at DragonCon, we were supposed to feel the emotional impact of the character death. I didn't then. Here? Oh yes. Characters were much better established, and for the most part, when characters died, I felt it.
Critics of Grunge will be happy to know that Chad spends less time getting lucky and more time being pummeled. There is even less sex in this book than in Grunge, and seriously, people, he spent more time on politics than sex. And for some reason, people claimed he was a Mary Sue .... to which I will soon reply with a blog post explaining what a Mary Sue looks like, because obviously, people have little to no experience with the phenomenon. Yes, he's a super genius who's good at shooting people, but he's also hospitalized every few chapters.
The only thing that's really off-putting about this novel is the marked shift from "looking backwards." In Grunge, there is a lot of time spend on his family, and Ringo outright states that the larger evil behind everything Chad is fighting is Chad's brother. This book? Nope. Barely a whisper of Chad's family, and not a whisper about what's the ultimate evil of the trilogy. I'm wondering how much of that is editorial, or how much was in the process of the novel. These books are thinner than Ringo's usual fair, so if you told me he wrote them as one continuous novel, broken up into a trilogy, that would explain certain things.
Also, in Grunge, time was spent on the moral of the story: "Chad" wrote each chapter to illustrate a point. Here, there's no such clear lesson plan; "Chad" does have "pro-tips" scattered throughout, but the concept seems strangely abandoned. Perhaps this is due to the chaotic nature of New Orleans, where every night is insane, and the full moon is like Arkham asylum let everyone out on a day pass, so Chad is merely fitting in tips where he can.
Heh, it's a coin toss.
Final verdict is still the same: Sinners is even better than Grunge. Go out, buy it, enjoy it, consider it for a Dragon Award next year. (No, not a Hugo. Ringo will freaking skin you alive if he found out)
Anyway, if you like this review, you might want to consider one of the following books for your reading pleasure