★★★★★ Nite Fire: Flash Point is the first book in C. L. Schneider’s urban fantasy series about shapeshifting assassin Dahlia Nite, who escapes her homeworld after a botched assassination forces her to go on the run. She finds refuge in Sentinel City, a bustling human hub on Earth, where she helps protect the hapless population from dangerous supernatural threats that periodically slip through dimensional rifts. As a half-human/half-dragon hybrid, Dahlia’s talents lie in tracking and eliminating criminals who tumble through the cracks, whether by choice or by chance. But, Dahlia has problems of her own, beyond the constant pressure of hiding her non-human identity from the few people she lets into her life. Someone—or something—is killing off their victims in a gruesome fashion and leaving a fiery trail of crime and chaos in their wake. If she has any hope of catching the killer and saving the city she’s come to call home, Dahlia will have to put herself in harm’s way, solving the case from the inside before her partner, Detective Alex Creed, figures out she might be the greatest danger of all.
Schneider confidently constructs the stage—and then sets it ablaze—with bitter, rule-breaking Dahlia, whose complicated past and burdensome abilities make it difficult for her to connect with others. Yet, cut off from her past by forces beyond her control, Dahlia’s quest for answers (and reconciliation) makes her more human than she herself realizes—and therein lies her appeal. Meanwhile, cleverly subtle world-building hints at a greater conflict to come, offering tantalizing glimpses and nail-biting brushes with Dahlia’s monstrous brethren. The book’s easy-flowing narrative, peppered with fiery fight scenes, drives Dahlia ever closer toward a finish that’s difficult to predict, but provides all the payoff and intrigue readers will need to be convinced to pick up the next book in this series.