I love these books! Comparisons with Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake and Tanya Huff's Fitzroi and Vikki are inescapable, but these books came first and one must give Mercedes Lackey her due.
" Something is stalking in Dallas. Detective Mark Valdez feels that evil. He's dealt with the occult before and he knows he's in over his head. So, he calls in a specialist. Diana Tregarde. Romance novelist, investigator of unnatural events. Practicing witch. If any one can determine what malevolent power is loose in Dallas, she can. "
I'm reading the Diana Tregarde novels in chronological order, rather than publication order, so I came to this novel after Children of the Night. Given that, it does feel like a stronger novel -- I was involved right away, rather than spending the first 1/3 wondering if I should bother. Part of that is that I was now used to Lackey's rather purple style, but part was also that there is far less of the stream-of-consciousness italics that so bogged down Children of the Night for me. Part of it is also that the other primary viewpoint character in this novel, Mark, is much more of an active participant rather than victim, as Dave was. Very importantly, there is a reason provided for Diana totally missing the obvious answer to all her of questions for a hundred pages while Lackey got the action going. The fact that an essential clue simply slipped Diana's mind in Children of the Night annoyed me to no end, and while it was just as annoying here, at least she forgot for a reason.
Incidentally, the names in these novels are starting to annoy me. Everyone has an extremely common one or two syllable name, and an obvious nickname. That makes it very hard to separate characters that are introduced at the same time: in Children of the Night I never got the band members sorted out, and in Burning Water I still can't remember which of the Mountainhawk brothers is which. (I also had to flip back through the book and find their name -- again -- to write this review, because it too simply blended into the prose without impressing itself on me.)
Another thing that threw me in both novels was that in both someone that one of the viewpoint characters is close friends with ends up dying -- but due to the circumstances of that death, none of the other characters seem to mind much. That simply struck me as false -- no matter how much a friend may have brought trouble down on him or herself, I can't imagine myself being as blase as these characters are.
Given all that, I did barrel through the novel in a single afternoon. It's lightweight, has some humor to it, and while I wouldn't exactly call these novels mysteries -- the audience always knows exactly what's happening -- they are serviceable supernatural thrillers.