"Blackout," Rob Thurman

Pros: A chance to see what Cal might have been like as a “normal” human
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

 

NOTE: This is book six of the Leandros Brothers series by Rob Thurman. The series starts with Nightlife, through Moonshine, Madhouse, Deathwish, Roadkill, and now Blackout. Start at the beginning, and try to avoid reviews of later books until you’ve read the previous ones. I’ll just say that I love every one of the seven-so-far books.

 

A killer wakes up on a beach surrounded by dead giant spiders. He’s exceedingly well-armed and carries several IDs in different names. But most importantly, he has no idea who or where he is. All he knows is that he’s obviously a killer—but what sort of killer?

All of the first names on his IDs start with Cal, so he decides that’ll do for a name, and heads into town. After cleaning up in an anonymous motel room he sets out to see if there’s anything nearby that jogs his memory. Instead he finds a mellow barber and a sharp-tongued diner owner who seemed determined to adopt his sorry ass. Soon he’s waiting tables and even finding a little peace and quiet for once. That is, until Cal’s brother Niko comes in like a whirlwind and drags his amnesiac little brother back to New York—not without difficulty.

Cal seems a bit different now. He’s more mellow in some ways. He has a gut-level reaction to kill anything he can label as a monster, even when those monsters are friends. And the paranormal critters of New York have noticed that he no longer really smells of his Auphe half. This means they think he’s weak. But while he might not be able to rely on his superhuman side, he has all of Niko’s intensive training to fall back on—making him a hard target indeed.

Now he just has to remember who he is, figure out why these giant spiders keep coming after him, and kill an ancient Egyptian goddess who’s draining the life force from the most powerful of the city’s supernatural beings. Just another day at the office, in other words.


 

If this book were written by any other author, Cal’s amnesia would be used as a convenient reset button for some of the things he’s had to deal with lately, the ways in which his Auphe half has grown stronger. Thankfully Ms. Thurman’s better than that, and she uses it to allow Cal to grow in his own way. Cal and Niko’s relationship is tested harder than ever in this one, and it’s heartbreaking in places.

To repeat myself from past reviews, Thurman’s a master at narrating in character. Her pacing and action are superb. She has a great deal of imagination, leading to surprises that keep me on my toes. Her characters always have a ton of personality, and so much more to them than is obvious at first. Her world-building is unique, dynamic, and always fascinating.

A part of me does wish there was some sort of closure between Cal and the folks he met while he didn’t know who he was. But the route Thurman took made a lot more sense for the characters involved.

I can’t say much more, as usual, without risking spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. Another win in Thurman’s column, and another reason why I just can’t stop reading her books.

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