At first glance, the interesting about the first book 'Fated - An Alex Verus novel' was the cover itself - no half naked heroine, no vampire, no.
Only the fantastic picture of London and one quote:
"Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus tremendously - and be a little nervous around him. I just added Benedict Jacka to my must-read list." - Jim Butcher.
I love the cover and as a Harry Dresden fan the quote was of course more than enough of an argument to buy this. I bought the other two books of the series (Cursed and Taken) the very next day, after having finished 'Fated' within a record time.
Amazon summary of the book:
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.
But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...
To add my 5-cent: Alex is a diviner, which is cool, but in a world were most other mages can throw around fire, manipulate gravity or time and are most commonly insanely dangerous this might be not enough.
Why do I like this book?
Because of Alex Verus. Per default he's always the underdog in a battle, and his only chances to win are his intelligence and wit. But there is more. Alex tries to bury his past, but over the course of the books the struggle to be "good" (and the question of what is 'good') becomes obvious. In this he's not like Harry Dresden. He's far more ruthless, colder and doesn't allow himself to hesitate.
Another thing I like is the world itself. It's complex, unique in its problems (mainly other mages, monsters ares dying out) and solutions and everyone has their own agendas. I would recommend the website of Jacka himself, if one wants to know more. He publishes there a new entry about his world every Friday where he explains more of the magic system, the politcal system, and so on. Because it really doesn't fit everything in one book, even though the character explains much (which some might not like, but I enjoyed).
Also, the supporting characters are likeable and with their own powers. Especially the female characters are far more than just... well, female and pretty. And just because one is an enemy in this book, doesn't mean he's an enemy in the next book, and in the third all might look different again... which is refreshing to read.
A few. I mentioned that the character explains much, but if you aren't interested in the explanations you might get bored. Also, if you're looking for romance this is definitely the wrong author. Additionally, so far I've not made out a big story line, but this might yet come. It's clear that this author is planning in advance.
Who should read this?
Anyone who enjoyed Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher), Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs), The Rivers of London (Ben Aaranovitch) or the Matthew Swift series (Kate Griffin).