Touch of Evil
Reading a book is like going on a blind date; vulnerability abounds. When the author writes it and puts it out there, he/she becomes vulnerable to the reading public. It is what it is and nothing they can do will affect the outcome once it’s published. But the reader is at risk as well. They’re willing to get out there and meet the author half-way. They want to be entertained and moved, and most of all they want to like what they’ve read. Sadly, as with blind dates, some of what we read disappoints us. Case in point, Touch of Evil. I wanted to like it – oh so much more then I did.
In the complicated alternative world that Ms. Adams and Ms. Clamp have created vampires aren’t really vampires. They are the Thrall, a parasitic race who take over the bodies of human beings and eventually destroy them from the inside out. Anyone remember episode 25 of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Conspiracy” where the broad earwig shaped things were invading the bodies of Fleet personnel? That’s sort of the idea here (at least as far as I can understand). The parasites invade the blood stream and move to the spine. For a few years the host human can survive but they are controlled by their parasite. Most who have this parasite are imply “hosts”. Every host is part of a group controlled by a queen. These queens must transfer to a new host when their human dies or their entire “family” will perish. Other humans are “herd”. They provide blood to the Thrall and are eventually used up as well. You got all that?
Kate Reilly is an international courier. Kate’s been bitten by a Thrall queen but has been able to avoid becoming a host. That’s not to say she escaped entirely. The bite has left her psychically attuned to the Thrall and though she is declared “Not Prey” by the most of the queens in Denver, the queen who bit her has other plans. Queen Monica is determined to take Kate as her next host body. Needless to say, Kate would rather die.
Is there a romance in there somewhere? Well, sort of. Kate owns an apartment building. Her newest tenant is Tom Bishop, a firefighter who was thrown out of his last apartment because he also happens to be a lycanthrope. Kate thinks he’s hot, Tom thinks Kate is hot. Must be a romance. Truthfully that’s about all there is to it. The couple spends so little time together (and what they do spend together is spent fighting bad guys) that it was hard to see this as anything more then an initial foray into a relationship. By book’s end they have feelings for each other but it’s a little hard to believe.
Tom is a likable hero. Though he’s a werewolf his pack is matriarchal and Tom is anything but an alpha concerning Kate. He cares but doesn’t try to run roughshod over her life. Kate is tough and no-nonsense, and I liked that. But she’s also occasionally pretty darn stupid. Kate is a woman under siege and yet time and time again she seems to forget that fact. Upon arriving at her home and finding a strange car blocking her parking garage Kate frets about having to call someone to tow the car and then goes on to explain how she only has the car towed to the street not the impound lot and how irritating it all is. Not once does she stop and think, hey maybe this is a bad guy come to get me. That’s just plain dumb. And it happens more than once.
Kate’s occasional idiocy aside, the biggest problem I had with the book is that it’s got big ideas that don’t go anywhere. Like the romance, the plotting happens in spurts. In many ways this feels like a first book in a series. If it is, then some of the slow build is understandable. But it still leaves the reader hoping for more.
I’ve tried this writing duo before and they have not hit with me yet. What they have done is intrigue me enough to keep me coming back, which is not something I’d say about many ‘C’ authors. Still, I can’t recommend this particular book.