Night's Black Agents by Daniel Humphreys: Paxton Locke Book 2 Review

Have I said I’m a sucker for any book [Silver Empire affiliate link] that mentions my hometown, Flagstaff, Arizona, even in passing? Paxton and his not-quite-girlfriend Cassie do simply pass through Flagstaff, as it is the junction between I-40 and I-17, on their way from Wisconsin to Arizona. Since that isn’t likely to matter to everyone else, let me also say that this book was a lot of fun. Paxton is very much the kid I wanted to be when my friends were into LARPing as vampires and werewolves. I just wanted to cleanse the Earth of foul creatures, not to be one.


Following the events of Fade, Paxton Locke is looking for a return to the familiar. So he seeks out Kent Sikora, the detective who took Pax under his wing following Paxton’s mother’s ritual murder of his father. Kent himself understandably needed a change of scenery after those events, so he relocated to Phoenix, Arizona.

Unfortunately for both of them, something is stirring in the Sonoran desert. When Kent asks Paxton to come and help, they both assume it is just a kidnapping case. Neither of them know what they are getting themselves into. Paxton probably should, since he can’t even eat a greasy spoon without stumbling onto a servant of nameless evil, but I guess a little bit of denial is pretty normal even for him.

Tlaloc effigy vesselBy Ivanpares - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Tlaloc effigy vessel

Plus, now that Paxton’s mother is on the loose rebuilding her power, and the secretive Division M is tracking both Paxton and Helen Locke, we’ve got a great setup for a multi-sided power struggle. One involving magic and explosions.

I rather enjoyed the different dynamics of each group, who have different motivations and personalities within them. Helen’s coven is founded in thirst for power and deception, while Division M has some the bureaucracy of its paymasters. Introducing so many new characters really pays off, as everyone reveals bits of the plot as they pursue their own goals along multiple overlapping paths. It all needs to be seen to be believed, so come along for the ride as Paxton tries to unravel the mystery in Phoenix.

The Paxton Locke books would be a good candidate for a modern version of Appendix N, along with the Gideon Ira books. I see each series as part of the tradition of adventure fiction marketed for men, fantastic adventures with a strong sense of justice. Much like Three Hearts and Three Lions, one of the foundational concepts of Humphreys’ world is orientation to Law or Chaos. In general, the human world is one of Law, even though individual humans may be more or less strongly attached to the laws per se. Chaos, on the other hand, is the pole of eldritch horror and swirling darkness, the home of unspeakable horrors that would devastate the Earth and stock their larders with any survivors.

Magical creatures as such tend toward Chaos, but not all of them are evil. Often, they are just capricious. Humans tend toward Law, but when humans are in conflict with one another, that tends towards the ends of the foul things lurking in the dark. All of this is mostly invisible to the people of Earth, who only find out otherwise if something goes wrong.

Since I really like that kind of story, I really like this embodiment of it. I like Paxton’s sense of humor, and his nerdishness. I find his motivations understandable, even if sometimes less than noble. He is, after all, just a kid who was thrust into circumstances beyond his control, but also gifted with remarkable power. The fun lies in seeing what he does with it.

I received this book from the publisher for free. Silver Empire books are available directly through the publisher, so I have linked to their online store.

Silver Empire also features a book club [Silver Empire affiliate link], with monthly and annual plans, that allows one book each month.

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Books from Silver Empire

The Paxton Locke Series

by Daniel Humphreys
Fade: Paxton Locke book 1

The Heroes Unleashed series

by Morgon Newquist
Heroes Fall: Serenity City book 1

by Cheah Kit Sun
Hollow City: Song of Karma book 1

by J. D. Cowan
Gemini Warrior: Gemini Man book 1

by Jon Mollison
Overlook: The Phoenix Ring book 1

Other series

by Kristen Brand