Review: “Silenced,” Nicole Givens Kurtz

Pros: Interesting worldbuilding
Cons: Rough writing; needs another edit
Rating: 3 out of 5

Nicole Givens Kurtz’s Silenced: A Cybil Lewis Novel (Cybil Lewis Mysteries) introduces us to Cybil Lewis, “private inspector and all around snoop”. This story takes place in the not-too-distant future. There are flying cars (“wautos”), laser guns, and moon colonies. The US has been divvied up into quadrants, and DC is “the now ruined former capital of the United States”. Cybil has an “inspector in training,” Jane, whose aunt is Mayor Christensen of the Memphis Quadrant. The mayor’s daughter Mandy is missing, and the regulators (the futuristic version of police) have been unable to find her. Cybil doesn’t want to work for the mayor, but she accepts the job for Jane’s sake. The two head down to Memphis to try to figure out what happened to Mandy.

The worldbuilding is really interesting. There are little mentions of things that fill out the picture, like cheese being incredibly rare due to cattle mutations. Some restaurants use robot servers. Most phone calls include video. It all adds up to give that futuristic vibe. It reminds me a little of the near-future world of J.D. Robb’s “In Death” books, but with less glamour and more constant grit.

Unfortunately, the writing is rough. The pacing is bumpy. The writing is often awkward (the book starts off with nearly two pages just about how it’s cold out and Cybil has to keep her jacket open so she can get to her gun). The side characters often seem to mug for the camera, with even polished, politically savvy characters prone to stuttering and similar issues when emotions get high. This book also seriously needs another edit. There are a lot of words that just aren’t used right, and some clear errors that got missed.

There’s some off-screen sex. It was hard for me to find lines like “I was panting like a mutt in heat” sexy, though. (Ugh.) Content note: sexual assault and mention of rape. I was also rather surprised at how casually statutory rape is treated. Cybil interviews Mandy’s 23-year-old boyfriend (Mandy was 16) and even comments on his “wholesomeness”. Ick! Okay, I just realized that they never actually give the age of consent, but I still wouldn’t see a 23-year-old going after a 16-year-old as run-of-the-mill. It deserved at least a little bit of comment.

Cybil sometimes seems to miss obvious possibilities or jump to weird conclusions. I can’t go into most of them because it would give plot details away. Other than that, the plotting is interesting and sufficiently convoluted without going too far.

I’m ambivalent about this book. On the positive side, it has strong women of color in it, which is wonderful. And like I said, the worldbuilding is great. I just wish the writing was up to snuff. Luckily, this is the sort of thing a writer can improve over time, so it’s probably worth giving later books a read.

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Review: “Hollow Kingdom,” Kira Jane Buxton

Pros: Delightful characters; very quotable!
Cons: Gets very introspective!
Rating: 4 out of 5

Kira Jane Buxton’s Hollow Kingdom introduces us to Shit Turd (S.T.), a crow raised by a human named Big Jim. He spews profanities and rides Big Jim’s bloodhound Dennis like a horse. He’s also inordinately fond of Cheetos. One day, Big Jim’s eye falls out, and Big Jim deteriorates from there. S.T. steals a bunch of medications from a pharmacy (everything from antibiotics to Summer’s Eve) and tries to use them to help Jim, but nothing works. Eventually he and Dennis must leave their home in search of answers, food, and a cure for Big Jim–for all the humans, actually, because S.T. is in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Along the way, he discovers that he has a role to play in the newest phase of domestic animals’ lives.

The narrative is, for the most part, quite delightful. It’s hugely quotable, which is so much fun.

Big Jim and I shared a look, or sort of three-quarters of a look, because now, obviously, he only had a single eyeball.

S.T. is by turns hilarious and rather adorable. His is the most unusual narrative voice I’ve ever seen for a zombie apocalypse. Things do, however, take a bit of a downturn part-way through. S.T. becomes incredibly introspective as he has a crisis of identity and faith, and it goes on for quite a while. I found it didn’t hold my attention, so for a while in the middle of the book I kept putting it down. It’s well worth picking up again, however, because the more active storyline does get going again!

Content note: Since this is an apocalyptic story (albeit an oft-humorous one), and the characters are animals of all kinds, there is of course some animal harm and animal death in this book. However, this book is nicely free of the usual content issue found in post-apocalyptics (rape and torture).

The “humanity bringing about its own end” theme is very heavy, right down to the fact that the zombified humans will, more than anything, focus on and chase down anything that’s an active electronic (particularly cell phones). This isn’t necessarily a negative–it’s appropriate to the book, but some people will like it and others won’t, so I mention it for that reason.

The narrative occasionally takes a side jaunt so we can see through the eyes of Winnie the Poodle, Genghis Cat, a polar bear, or the Mother Tree. Pretty much the only animals we don’t experience this way are the freed zoo animals, who definitely have a few roles to play in events. This is really interesting, and never lasts long enough to interrupt the flow of the novel.

Apart from the slow portion in the middle, I really enjoyed this book, and would heartily recommend it!

So there we were. A rejected crow with an identity crisis partnering a bloodhound with an IQ of boiled pudding. We were perhaps the most pathetic excuse for an attempted murder on the face of the earth.

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Short Take: “The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales,” Sonora Taylor

Pros: Four entertaining stories
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sonora Taylor’s short anthology The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales contains four brief tales of horror. I really loved her unusual serial killer tale Without Condition, so I had to give this collection a read!

In The Crow’s Gift, Tabitha is being bullied by schoolmate Simon. She’s also starting to make friends with a crow she calls Timothy, who brings her pretty pebbles in return for the crackers she feeds him and his friends. This one is simple, to the point, and delightful.

I Love Your Work sees Ann trying desperately to see her favorite author, Samuel Miller, at a book signing–but it seems like the universe itself is trying to keep her from getting there as one thing goes wrong after another! This is an entertaining little story that is simple-but-fun.

The protagonist of I Never Knew Your Name sees a certain stranger every day on their way to work, and for some reason these two just seem to click and always say hello. Then children start to go missing, and things get weird. This one’s a little surreal, and I might have liked just a little more information, but it’s intriguing as it is.

In All the Pieces Coming Together, Taylor returns to the world of serial killers. A fledgling serial killer picks up a woman at the bar, but finds he’s actually quite attracted to her. He decides to enjoy the night with her before killing her, but things don’t quite go according to plan.

I’m a serial killer–or at least, I would be if there were anyone around to kill.

That last story was my favorite–Taylor seems to be particularly good at presenting serial killers in new and unusual ways! This collection is a very brief read, but definitely enjoyable.

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Review: “The Pilot,” Michael Cole

Pros: Interesting military-vs-monsters story
Cons: Details that don’t add up right
Rating: 3 out of 5

Michael Cole’s The Pilot introduces us to Victor Seymour, a Navy SEAL who was discharged due to cancer, recovered, and became a mercenary. He and his team are manipulated into working for the government this time: they have to go to a mysterious island, rescue some hostages, and bring with them agent Cassie Hawk, who knows more about what’s going on than she’s saying. There’s an alien loose on the island–something the government calls the Pilot–and it’s extremely dangerous. It also has an agenda.

The alien Pilot is a cross between a Predator and an Alien. It’s a danger to all of humanity, and our heroes will have a hard time surviving its attention. The pacing of this book is quite good–the tension slowly builds, and about two-thirds of the way through it becomes wonderfully tense. That’s also the point at which the narrative became a bit smoother, as though the author had really hit his stride. Prior to that some of the writing seemed a bit stilted and awkward.

The book could have used another round of editing. There were a number of misspellings of the sort a spell-checker won’t catch (one word substituted for something one letter off). I’m also pretty sure that the author intended to say that the eight-foot-tall alien had 12 INCH fangs, not fangs “twelve feet in length”. It’s still hard to imagine fangs a foot long being at all wieldy, mind you.

The characters are an odd mix of stereotypical and non-stereotypical. For instance, I’m just shocked that the sole Japanese mercenary was inscrutable, nigh-silent, and proficient with a sword. The Korean soldiers the good guys encounter are used just as soulless cannon fodder, and everything the characters do to them (including torture in one case) is depicted as perfectly reasonable. (Content note for blood, guts, explosions, and torture.)

SPOILER WARNING: Go to the next paragraph to avoid spoilers. At one point in the book, the team is concerned that the Pilot will repair and use a damaged plane to escape the island. They’re convinced that because it comes from a highly technologically advanced civilization, it will be able to do this in a matter of hours. So one, they’re assuming that just because it’s advanced, it’s a mechanic. Which, huh? Two, they’re assuming that if you can operate advanced tech, you can automatically operate primitive tech. This is a plane built in a totally different cultural and technological context. I mean, how the hell does the Pilot know how to activate autopilot?? I’m pretty sure if you took someone who knew how to drive a Tesla and put them in a biplane, they wouldn’t know how to operate it simply because it was less advanced. All of this really made things fall apart toward the end. END SPOILER WARNING.

If you’re looking for a tense military-vs-monsters book and don’t care whether the details add up, this would be an engaging read. If you’re looking for sense, however, try something else.

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Review: “Patient Zero,” Terry Tyler

Pros: Good slice-of-life apocalypse stories
Cons: Small things
Rating: 4 out of 5

Terry Tyler’s Patient Zero: Post-Apocalyptic Short Stories apparently is an add-on to her “Project Renova” series. It’s supposed to stand alone, so I thought it might be interesting to read and give me an idea of whether I want to read the actual series. It’s a small collection of short stories set in a post-apocalyptic UK where a virus has wiped out much of the population. I found it mostly stood well alone. The stories aren’t about arc-plot; they’re slice-of-life stories about various people’s experiences during and after the end of things. Because of this they’re relatively low-key. The final story seems to break genre, which is confusing–the protagonist claims to have died and been reborn many times, which doesn’t fit in your average viral apocalypse, and there’s nothing in the other stories that hinted at anything like that. Also one of the stories is called “Evie: Patient Zero,” but there’s really nothing in there that explains the patient zero reference (although the afterword assures us that one of the other books does explain it).

The nine stories provide a nice range of characters and views of the apocalypse. Jared Green’s Uncle Owen gave him two vials of precious vaccine–but Jared’s no longer sure he wants to give the second one to his girlfriend, who’s cheating on him. Flora’s father figured out things were going to go badly and put a bunch of stuff by–but that doesn’t mean her family will have an easy time of things as society fails. Jeff was a prepper who went all-out having a bunker made and stocking it with everything he could need, but he failed to account for the boredom and loneliness.

Karen cared for her sister and her sister’s family as they died, but she remained immune. She laid a heavy burden on her sister as Claire lay dying, and now she’s trying to atone for that. Aaron, who also seems to be immune, set out to find anyone he knows who might still be alive, and ended up at his ex-girlfriend’s house. Meg is waiting for her prison guard husband to return so they can leave their home and go someplace safer, but he’s late.

Ruby, girlfriend to a drug dealer, starts to wonder whether she should really wait for him before getting the hell out of Dodge. Evie is having trouble holding onto her boyfriend Nick, but she’s also having trouble letting go. She just never seems to come first in his life. Martin is the man who’s lived many lives. I’m still utterly confused by this story’s place in the rest of this world.

The stories are interesting, and it’s an enjoyable book if you like viral apocalypses, which I definitely do. There isn’t anything amazing here, but it’s solidly good.

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Review: “The Devil You Know,” Terry Tyler

Pros: Great concept executed well!
Cons: Some stereotypes; a whole lot of misogyny
Rating: 4 out of 5

Terry Tyler’s The Devil You Know approaches the serial killer thriller from a new direction. In a British town, there’s a serial killer strangling prostitutes. Five people become convinced that someone they know is the killer. The reader, of course, knows it can’t be all of them. As the evidence mounts up, which suspect will prove to be the real killer? Is it Steve’s misogynistic friend Dan? Tamsin’s colleague and crush Jake? Dorothy’s civil servant son Orlando? Juliet’s abusive husband Paul? Or 15-year-old Maisie’s mother’s boyfriend Gary?

As the tale progresses and more women die, the evidence against each person becomes stronger, although in all cases there seem to be extenuating details as well. All five people stay out late for dubious or false reasons. Paul seems to have all the personality traits of a serial killer as revealed by the experts. Dan has been accused of attempted rape, and Steve’s not so sure he believes Dan’s side of things. Tamsin seems obsessed with Jake, so it’s easy to believe that in her anger at his brush-off after their one night stand, she might be reaching to declare him the killer. Orlando seems like a fairly sensitive man, but he is an adult who shows no sign of moving out of his mother’s house, and he’s been lying about where he’s spending his time. Maisie thinks the photo-fit looks like Gary, but is he really a killer, or is he just your run-of-the-mill philanderer taking advantage of her mother?

Some of the characters are a bit on the stereotypical side. I will say that Orlando and his mother, Dorothy, are my favorite pair of characters. They’re the least stereotypical, and have the most interesting relationship between them. Orlando is much more than the stereotype of the man who never grows up and never leaves his mother. He and his mother have sly senses of humor and a rather beautiful relationship. My least favorite character is Dan. He’s pretty much the epitome of the hard-drinking lad who thinks all girls are asking for it. I really didn’t enjoy reading through his sections, because they’re just endless litanies of misogyny. Similarly, Paul is pretty much the stereotypical abusive (yet outwardly successful and charming) husband, and his wife Juliet–for most of the book anyway–seems the typical battered woman who does everything she can to avoid placing blame on her husband. Tamsin is the ultimate portrayal of the kind of woman who becomes obsessed with a man and sees a relationship where there is none (this doesn’t excuse the fact that Jake is an asshole who takes advantage of that, of course). It just seems like the author went too far into making the suspects the “typical” range of serial killer stereotypes.

One of the things I love about this book is the little connections that emerge. You might see Dan and Steve and their friends go to a certain bar, only to hear the name of the bar repeated in another section. Some sex-trafficking Albanians play several roles in different narratives. Certain neighborhoods show up more than once. The paper that Tamsin and Jake work for gets read by several other characters. There’s a very nice interwoven tapestry of suspects, witnesses, protagonists, police, and geography.

It is a serial killer thriller. Content note for rape, murder, physical and emotional abuse, misogynistic tirades, slurs, etc.

If you’re a fan of serial killer stories, you’ll find the concept of this tale to be new, interesting, and refreshing!

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Review: “The Gossamer Mage,” Julie E. Czerneda

Pros: Fabulous worldbuilding and characters!
Cons: Some confusion; a few things didn’t quite add up
Rating: 4 out of 5

Julie E. Czerneda’s The Gossamer Mage is an absolutely beautiful dark fantasy tale. Tananen is the only place in the world where magic is real. Men touched by the Gift of the Deathless Goddess become mages, learning to write Her Words in order to bring intentions to life. Women touched by Her Gift become daughters, and help to keep the land and its inhabitants safe. When mages use their power, they sacrifice a portion of their lives, growing old and dying well before their time. When a mage’s intention isn’t pure, focused, or skilled enough, he creates Gossamrs–living magic with will and a mind of its own. Maleonarial is exceptionally gifted. He has 300 bells in his hair–one bell for each use of his power–and yet still lives, although barely. When a village is attacked by monsters, the locals blame Mal, who’s been living as a hermit–however, it should be impossible for his creations to harm and kill. Both the Hold Lord and Hold Daughter of Tiler’s Hold send representatives to figure out what’s going on and put a stop to it.

The system of magic is truly interesting. The daughters are the only ones who can speak Her Words and live, but the mages are the only ones who can use intentions to create living magics. Those magics take the form of living things; so for example, magic can’t heal directly, but it might be used to create a plant which can be distilled into a healing potion. Elements such as the quality of the pen, ink, and parchment used can have varying effects on the magics. Since mages have to spend their youth and life to work magic, their magic is highly valued and compensated. But the inhabitants of Tananen are used to having nearly every aspect of their lives enriched by magic, so mages live fleeting lives. There did seem to be some inconsistency in how much of a mage’s life magic took. When the characters are throwing around magics later in the book, it seemed from the descriptions like each use took, if I had to guess, probably 1-3 years off of the mage’s life. Yet Mal started out with 300 bells, so obviously that can’t be true, even if he did have an unusual number. There was another mage depicted who was absolutely mired in the results of his magics, so again, a year or two for each use couldn’t possibly be the case. If the aging effects had just been subtler at the end the whole shebang would have made perfect sense. It also would have made the extravagant uses of magic more believable. Especially when mages apparently use magic so ubiquitously that even “no mage scribe used sparks to start fire.”

I really love the characters. Kait, one of the daughters, is a back-woods woman transplanted to a city hold as a potential successor to the Hold Daughter. She’s out of her element, but seems to have an unusual gift to detect certain types of evil–a gift that’s going to be needed! She’s concerned, however, because she no longer hears the Lady’s Voice in her mind. (I would have liked a little more information about what that was like before it vanished. I never got a handle on, say, whether it was a two-way or one-way communication, or what sorts of things the Lady talked about.) Mal is also a great character. He’s determined to find a way to destroy the Lady so that she’ll stop draining the lives of mages, even if it means no more magic in the world. He has interesting history with many of the incidental (and not-so-incidental) characters, and he has a whole lot of depth. There are plenty of intriguing, enjoyable characters to accompany the reader on her journey.

I found the narrative a little confusing at times. Some of the geographic description was hard to get a handle on. And there was just something about the wording in places that forced me to read sentences twice in order to figure out what exactly was going on–a kind of awkward wording here and there.

I really enjoyed this book, and I think almost any fantasy fan would. It does get a bit dark and bloody in places, so just be aware.

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Review: “The Third Mrs. Durst,” Ann Aguirre

Pros: The characters! The scheming! I’m floored!
Rating: 5 out of 5

I came across Ann Aguirre’s The Third Mrs. Durst on Book-Twitter. Aguirre said she’d been told she should market it as “bisexual erotic murder ladies”, and that sounded like fun, frankly, so I gave in and grabbed a copy. I’m so glad I did! This is one of my three favorite books of the year-so-far. (What an incredible book summer it’s been!)

Marlena Altizer has run away from home, leaving behind her poor, junkie mother and her younger siblings. She and her friend Jenny Song manage to snag jobs as models, although the conditions aren’t always so great. Marlena has a long-term plan, however. She catches the eye of Michael Durst, a controlling, but very wealthy, man, and sets about reeling him in. While she does become the third Mrs. Durst, however, she has something in mind besides money. Soon it becomes hard to tell in this cat and mouse game: who’s the cat and who’s the mouse? Michael controls every aspect of Marlena’s life, and his behavior escalates faster than she had anticipated. She may have bitten off more than she can chew, but she’s a fighter–and she’s determined to have her revenge.

I could have shouted in triumph, but I’d been planning this for so long that I could never break character.

Content note for rape and violence. There’s also some (not that much) explicit sex, of both f/f and f/m variety.

The characters in here are fabulous. Marlena and Jenny are two incredibly devious women, and I loved them. They and Vin (Marlena’s bodyguard) could be considered unlikable in some ways–at least compared to your traditional thriller leads–but I didn’t care one bit. Aguirre plays off of the stereotype of the young country naïf who gets in over her head, but Marlena is anything but naïve. Michael is absolutely psychotic, over-the-top in his glorious madness, and it works. Vin could also have easily been the stereotypical bodyguard love-plot, but he wasn’t. Marlena definitely incorporates him into her plans, but he’s a really interesting character, and their interactions are fantastic. So many clichés get subverted in here, and it’s wonderful!

The cat-and-mouse game gets truly dizzying. Unexpected characters come into play. Allies and enemies are fluid things. My heart raced through so many close calls and I was on the edge of my seat. Frankly my cats were lucky I finished before it was their dinner time or they’d have been left waiting! I don’t think I could have put this book down. Now I just have to hope Aguirre writes more books like this! I’ll certainly be waiting to buy them if she does!

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Review: “GlitterShip Year Two,” ed. Keffy R.M. Kehrli

Pros: Delightful queer anthology of many genres
Cons: The typical anthology issue of not every story being for every reader
Rating: 4 out of 5

Keffy R.M. Kehrli edits the anthology GlitterShip Year Two (GlitterShip Yearly Anthologies), containing more than 30 queer short stories and poems. Like most anthologies, some stories will suit certain readers and others won’t (it’s rare to have an editor’s tastes line up perfectly with your own–that’s just the nature of the beast). That’s a lot of stories, so I’ll just touch on a few that left strong impressions. I won’t comment on the poetry–I enjoy poetry, but I just don’t know what to say about it. I will say that I liked the poems in here, and didn’t think there were too many.

There’s a fantasy world in here in which once you cast four spells, you die, because you power your spells with pieces of your soul (Sebastian Strange’s The Last Spell of the Raven). Love that concept! There’s an AI that learns to grieve (Susan Jane Bigelow’s Mercy). Terraforming bugs on a planet that’s being re-made for settlement are the key when Gordon and Henry run into bad guys who threaten their lives and livelihoods (Nicole Kimberling’s Oh, Give Me a Home). I particularly liked a story of the apocalypse as caused by massive water-vapor-sucking aliens in the atmosphere–it focuses on one person’s reaction to realizing the end is coming, and it’s lovely (JY Yang’s The Slow Ones). Bennett North’s Smooth Stones and Empty Bones is a heartfelt story about two young women in love, one of whose mother is a witch.

Tonight after work I’m going to show my girlfriend how to raise the dead.

In one tale, a person takes shelter in a town where the death bell rings before anyone dies–only to have it ring that night (Amy Griswold’s The Passing Bell). I loved Cat Rambo’s The Subtler Art, in which lovers The Dark (a retired assassin) and Tericatus (a wizard) make a bet as to whose art is subtler. It’s absolutely delightful. One story stars a super-villain, Vanessa, as she falls for a young woman, Elle. The end is predictable, but I found that didn’t matter because it was so lovely; I wanted more of this story (Agatha Tan’s For She Is the Stars and the Sun Revolves around Her). There’s a story with super-capable people, and Syl has only tiny powers so far. This story gave me a little bit of a sniffle (Robin M. Eames’s The Little Dream).

Technically it’s laser vision, but Brian calls it her toast vision, because it isn’t good for much else.

In Jennifer Lee Rossman’s Do-Overs, a time traveler tries again and again to woo the woman of her dreams, with mixed results. Very charming! I’ve read A.C. Buchanan’s A Spell to Signal Home before and I still really enjoyed it. A diplomat’s ship crashes on a secret planet. I wish this was the start to a novel. There’s a wonderful story about a clockwork queen and her bizarre little kingdom that I love. It’s told in a number of parts with a ‘lesson’ at the end of each one, and the absurdity and hilarity of the lessons really add to this charming tale (Megan Arkenberg’s Lessons from a Clockwork Queen).

The queerness of the stories comes in different measures and types. Some stories focus on a character’s gender identity or a non-heterosexual relationship. Others just have queer characters–some human, some not–existing in their worlds. All in all I really liked how it was handled. There’s also at least one disabled character (fibromyalgia).

A few stories are a bit surreal, and those aren’t my favorite kinds of stories. Maybe I’m just dull, but I like to be able to explicitly comprehend the stories I read. I enjoy many emotional reactions to the stories I read, but confusion isn’t one of them. Luckily this was only the case in a handful of stories. I found most of the tales in here to be utterly charming.

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Review: “Underdogs,” Geonn Cannon

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.

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