Ace, Nov 2007, $6.99, 304 pp.
Once Mason worked with other magic practitioners to police their own but he soon got tired of that and started playing guitar for a jazz band in San Francisco that needed a performer. He has Lou-, a semi-supernatural being called an ifret that looks like a wolf-dog who became attached to him and his music so he was reasonably content. One night after a gig, while walking to his car, a creature from a mural leaves the painting and attacks mason.
Mason defeats the creature and soon finds himself in a realm exactly like his own only without people. He finds red jewels there and with the help of his wolf totem, he escapes. Powerful mages Eli and Victor tell him there is something wrong magically in the area. One of their own was killed in what mortals believe was a hit and run. They come to the conclusion that a powerful magician is siphoning the power from other practitioners and Mason who saw the mage’s aura knows who he is. It will come down to him and Mason in a magical duel in which the guitarist knows that he must improvise or lose, which means the evil magician will have an open gig.
John Levitt has written an entertaining urban fantasy that is reminiscent of the Harry Dresden novels. The protagonist is powerful but is too impatient to be trained properly so he has to improvise which results in unusual magical solutions to counteract the spells sent against him. His dog Lou comprehends what he says and stays with him out of love as he steals much of the show with a superstar performance. The antagonist is so warped and crazy and what he is doing to get the jewels is so repugnant, readers will love to hate him while loving his opponent.