Laura Bickle (writing as Alayna Williams), is an urban fantasy with a strong element of suspense, not too unlike her other series. Tara Sheridan is an oracle with a gift for reading the Tarot. Her mother had the same gift, and both were members of a secret society, Delphi's Daughters, who trace their "lineage" back to the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece. Tara, however, who was initiated as a child, wants nothing to do with the Daughters. Instead, she uses her talents secretly to work with the government as a criminal profiler. One case she was working on went badly for Tara, and she has since been living as something of a hermit, hidden away in a cabin in the woods with no one but her cat for company.
She gets pulled back into that life when an old friend of her mother's (who is also one of the Daughters) comes to ask Tara for her help in an investigation that is of great interest to them, for reasons she doesn't really go into. Tara is reluctant, but ends up agreeing to help. The Daughters have connections in some very high places, so she gets called in as a consultant to assist Agent Li in New Mexico, where a clean-up crew is already hard at work on the scene of an explosion at a government lab in the desert. The man responsible, the physicist Dr Magnusson, is gone without a trace, but the agency and the military are both very interested in finding him. So interested, in fact, that Magnusson's daughter, herself a graduate student in physics, is also now a target. Tara and Agent Li soon find that if they want to protect themselves and Cassie Magnusson as well, they will need to put aside their differences and trust each other. In doing so, Tara also finds that as reluctant as she was to take on this case, and as eager as she is to be done with it once more, it may not be as easy to walk away this time.
After finishing both Embers and Sparks, I hunted for Dark Oracle every time I set foot in a bookstore. And I actually really liked this one almost as much as I enjoyed those. It doesn't necessarily have a huge urban fantasy feel to it - it seemed more like mystery/suspense to me, with a heavy mystical element. But that is fine with me. I fell in love with urban fantasy, yes, but before I came across this genre, I was already a big fan of mystery and suspense. Combine the two, and I am more than content with the outcome.
I love the idea of the Daughters of Delphi, and I won't lie, I kind of wish it were a real thing and that I were an initiate. The members are all oracles, though their talents vary widely. Tara and her mother work with Tarot divination, but the current Pythia (basically, the group's leader) is a pyromancer, and another member who features prominently in the story is a geomancer. Though not quite like the geomancers you come across in World of Warcraft, which is kind of where my mind kept straying to when the practice was brought up. Bickle's geomancy is more realistic, in that the character doesn't rain fire down upon anyone or things like that. It involves the reading of ley lines and divination using crystals and runes...things like that.
Once again, I got the feeling that a lot of research went in to the writing of this book; the science behind the dark matter is very interesting, and seems sound. I am no physicist, though, so don't hold me to that. The important thing is that this is fiction, and it seems accurate enough to not cross the line into being science-fiction. Actual physicists, feel free to disagree with me, because you obviously will know more about that part of it than I likely ever will. But my disbelief, it is suspended.