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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed

Infected: Life After Death by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Other: M/M
Length: Full Length (330 pgs)
Rating: 5 Cherries
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

But when your heart is gone, it’s easy to fall into a black hole and never crawl out. Roan has been lost and alone for more than a year, and his best friends think a new case might be just the motivation he needs. Roan forces himself back into the game and discovers a dead man who might not be all that dead, a street hustler that wants to hustle him, and a dominatrix who is well prepared to take Roan’s orders. As Roan claws his way out of the darkness by diving back into his work, he finds himself in a race against time in the adrenaline-pumping realization that nothing helps a person want to live like helping someone else survive.

This is a book that a reader should not read fast. Instead, sip it like a fine wine and draw it out to savor the experience for the full effect. As anxious as I was to get my hands on the latest news about Roan, I also remember how I felt at the end of the last book. I didn’t rush through this current story. No, I spread it out over four days because I didn’t want to let Roan go. I adore his character, I care about him and I blame it all on Ms. Speed. She’s created a character that’s come to life for me, and a book over three hundred pages is still not enough.

I don’t know how Ms. Speed has done it but she’s kept the quality and vibrancy intact and sharpened the emotional edge to a fine point in Life After Death. This book picks up after the worst of Roan’s mourning of the loss of Paris, his husband, has occurred. The author sprinkled just the right amount of memories, references and an uncanny and heart wrenching additional touches that made me want to cry all over again. I was reading some of this book at work during lunch hour and I found myself sniffling and blubbering, making my co-workers wonder if I was okay. I was more than fine, I was moved, and my feelings were engaged. That doesn’t happen with cookie cutter characters and personalities of little depth. In each book, the author has had Roan progressively opening up about his feelings, his thoughts and his view of himself and this story is no different; and I love him all the more for it.

Once again, this book is actually split in two with Roan investigating two different crimes and mysteries. Ms. Speed has created a very human character because he not only has to get his life back together again, but he has to deal with the daily mundane chores of living. The author paints a clear picture of his home, his work and even his friends with well thought out descriptions and interesting minutia that at times seem innocuous but in fact flesh out the environment so readers can relate and feel closer to the action. And there is some very interesting mental and physical action for readers to enjoy.

Secondary characters are really important in this latest adventure. Some are from the previous books and didn’t evolve as I thought they might, (Ms. Speed is good at surprises) and some are new that promise to provide some very interesting dialogue between them and Roan at some future point. They’re too fascinating not to.

I enjoy watching Roan explore his kitty powers, although if he ever heard me say that, I bet he’d growl at me. I also appreciate the emotional toll they take on him. His pain and worries are all so very real to me thanks to the author’s quality writing style that I can’t help but want him to be happy. Paris wanted the same thing for him and that gets explored a bit too, much to my avid interest.

I will remind readers of this review that Infected: Life After Death is probably not a standalone read. There were quite a few loose ends that get tied up in this book that won’t have the impact for new readers that it does for those who have read the previous two books. I was shocked, amazed and astounded at some of the changes but I was ecstatic with some of the new additions. I got a kick out of Roan’s new employee.

Another thing readers need to be aware of is that there isn’t any graphic sex in this story. I certainly never missed it because the author kept me on my toes reading all about Roan’s cases and all the other stuff he gets into. Poor guy has the most bizarre things happen all in the course of a day. The hero does get to have some sheet time and I’m thrilled and happy for him, even cheering for him, but a reader only sees some really romantic kissing and tender touches, the door is firmly closed.

Infected: Life After Death is pure magic. It stayed with me after I read the final paragraph. I dreamed of what I would say in this review; the story haunted me that much. I can’t even express well enough the insights that Ms. Speed imbues her characters with – it’s almost spiritual and mysterious – in a rough sort of way. Roan’s internal dialogue always impresses me and makes me want to know him for real. The author brings an authenticity and grit to her writing that has been consistent all the way through. Ms. Speed has a true talent that I’m in awe of. I guess I’m starting to sound all fan girl but her characters and storytelling voice has had a powerful impact on me and I don’t find too many books that do what this series has done and continues to do. Kudos, Ms. Speed, on another high-powered winner and I eagerly look forward to another crime-solving adventure with Roan and his ongoing journey to a better happily ever after.

1 comment:

andys said...

Thank you very much for the review. I must admit, that while I put him through some awful things, I love Roan too.