Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/05/2016
Length: Long Novel (~ 100K+)
Genre: Science Fiction
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… all while he deals with personal tragedy and new love and does his best to survive in a world that usually hates and fears their kind. The cases range from investigating an unidentifiable species of cat that appears to be showing an unusual level of intelligence, to finding and stopping murderers, and Roan is finding it harder and harder to see the line between justice and vigilantism.
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.
Okay, that’s the premise, but what it doesn’t tell you is how truly great this series is, and that it is funny and sarcastic, and poignant and romantic, with some fabulous characters in the cast.
Firstly Roan McKichan, yes, he’s a nod to the jaded PI out to solve crimes in a dark world, but he’s a whole lot more than that. Roan was born with the werecat virus, he’s a virus child and usually they die young, but Roan didn’t die, so he’s a medical anomaly among other things. Growing up in a series of foster and group homes while dealing with the virus and a death sentence hanging over his head , and then trying to live in a world where he’s considered a freak in so many ways, makes him a unique character. He’s a funny, snarky guy, but also complex and caustic and dark and compassionate. He’s one of the strongest characters I’ve come across in a while, and yes, I love Roan. He’s leading man material in all the right ways, he’s tough, strong, an outcast, a thinker, funny, passionate and compassionate and definitely never say die (well, okay, now and then even Roan gets overtaken by all the crap in his world and can’t deal).
Then there is Paris. Paris is also an infected, however he was deliberately infected by an ex-lover, and suddenly Paris’s golden boy lifestyle plummeted into homelessness and pain and the inevitability that the virus would kill him. Paris is described as having ‘weaponized charm’, and yep, that’s definitely true. He’s a wonderful character, and one you fall in love with quickly.
As the series progresses other characters are introduced, some stay around, some don’t, but most of them are well-rounded, and many have layers that peel back over time in very interesting ways. There’s a rather scary male hooker, some wonderfully crazy hockey players, a dominatrix, a sexy Buddhist bartender, a bossy paramedic, all of whom weave in and out of this series, and they’re a fantastic supporting cast.
Yes, Roan is a private detective, and has cases to solve, but the magic in this series is Roan and the other characters and how much you come to care about them. Each case serves as a catalyst, and sometimes, often in fact, it’s not just solving the case that’s important, but the characters who come along for the ride and what is revealed about them, and Roan.
Be warned though, Ms. Speed isn’t soft on her characters, and people get hurt, and some even die.
This volume collects six novels/novellas and a short story in the series
Book 1: Prey – this book is the introduction to the series, and it drops you straight into the world and the action. A missing teenage boy, the Church of Divine Transformation and its bizarre leader, and the murder of a cop are all in the mix. Then there is Roan’s home life with Paris, and both of them dealing with the virus and its attendant horrors and pain. But it’s not all darkness, Roan and Paris are such a wonderful couple, and though all sex is off the page, it’s a wonderfully romantic pairing of, well I hate to say it, but obvious soul mates.
Book 0.5: Paris – this came out a little while after the first book, and it fleshes out how Roan and Paris met and connected. It fills in some missing pieces, not big ones, but it’s a great addition to the series.
Book 2: Bloodlines – this is wonderfully written, and has such poignancy. Paris’s health is in decline, and Roan has to balance finding a murderer with worrying about, and caring, for Paris. As I said above, Ms. Speed is not soft on her characters, but she writes this book with feeling and sensitivity, and it is beautiful and tragic and touching.
Book 3 – Life After Death – my least favourite book of the series in some ways. Yet, on reflection I did get that that was exactly how Roan would deal, or not deal, with loss. It’s also a pivotal book in that it introduces characters such as Holden (Fox), and Dylan (the Buddhist bartender) and cases that give Roan a kick start again. In many ways it was pitch perfect.
Book 4 – Free Fall – old enemies, a suspicious death, a loose infected terrorising the city, lots of action, but just as importantly Roan has to fight on a number of fronts in his own life. His inner lion is threatening to get out of control, and Roan has thorny emotional issues to deal with, such as a new lover.
Book 5 – Shift – Roan’s virus appears to be mutating in strange and inexplicable ways, part of his transformation was caught on video, there’s a media storm, a crooked cop, a rocky relationship – and, well, a hockey team. I have to say the hockey guys are a lot of fun, while the continuing mutating of the virus adds another dimension to the story line and Roan’s problems.
Infected is a wonderful series that takes an old trope such as the jaded PI, adds in some SF in the form of an unexplained were cat virus, and lets some memorable, very human characters tell their stories. Bravo, Ms. Speed.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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