Pros: Plenty of great plot twists and turns; intriguing world-building
Rating: 5 out of 5
Geonn Cannon’s Underdogs is part of a series about a werewolf private investigator (Ariadne Willow) and her human assistant, Dale Frye. I’m not sure where in the series it stands (I’ve only read one other book in the series), but it stands well on its own. Dale and Ari are hired by the wealthy and mysterious Katherine Gavin to surveil her daughter, Laura Gavin. Laura is extremely well-known as a “bad girl” who drinks, does drugs, and ends up on sex tapes. Supposedly rehab took this time, but Laura’s mother doesn’t know whether to believe it. Ari and Dale get Laura to take in Ari as a “lost dog” in her wolf form, as people don’t tend to keep up pretenses at home alone with a dog. Ari realizes something’s wrong when Laura’s childhood bodyguard comes into her apartment while she’s at work. Before long, Ari’s caught smack-dab in the middle of a plot that sees her framed for a heinous crime. She and Dale have to avoid the police, clear themselves, and deal with the real conspiracy. All while Dale and Ari try to navigate a new part of their relationship.
I’m including a content note for some violence and some nicely-written, explicit lesbian sex.
I love the creative ways in which Ari uses her existence as a Canidae to make her a better investigator. She and Dale cleverly figure out a way to have Laura take care of Ari-as-a-“dog” for several days, making it extremely easy to observe her and search her apartment. Ari’s even had some training as a drug-sniffing dog, allowing her to figure out whether Laura has any drugs in her apartment.
The characters are excellent. Laura has a complicated past. Her new boyfriend Neal is deeply encouraging of her attempt to turn over a new leaf. Her childhood bodyguard is hiding a few secrets. Ari has something of a love-hate relationship with how she ended up as a Canidae, and Dale is devoted to Ari.
I really enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot, and seeing how Dale and Ari plan to bring the whole thing to a head. Ari’s abilities and weaknesses as a werewolf come strongly into play, making the fights and chases plenty interesting. I very much enjoyed this story.