Book #5 in the Leandros Brothers series
I reviewed the last book, Deathwish, here.
First, let me warn you that Roadkill does not stand on its own particularly well. The action/adventure does – roadtrip! chasing a bad guy! – but the rest of the book? Not so much. In order to grasp what’s going on, you need to understand the background and the cast of characters who have accumulated around Cal & Niko, as well as the backstory of their lives to date.
Niko & Cal Leandros are preternatural private detectives, living in a world that seems just like yours and mine . . . except the population includes boggles, vampires, revenants, werewolves, pucks and peris. Any fairytale that you may have heard? Is a corruption of an actual creature…who is probably not as kind or gentle as the fairytale would have you believe. The elves in fiction have little in common with the Auphe, except perhaps skin color and shape of their ears. Gentle and kind the Auphe were not: they were the Earth’s top predator . . . until Cal & Niko managed to rid the world of them in Deathwish. Except not really, because there’s still one Auphe left, a half-Auphe: Cal.
The rest of the preternatural world hate and fear Cal because they can smell the Auphe in him. His circle of friends and family is small. There’s Robin Goodfellow, the ageless puck with the voracious sexual appetite, and … that’s about it. Delilah, his Wolf-with-benefits, does as she pleases; at the moment it pleases her to keep Cal company, but killing him may please her later. As always, the core of Cal’s world is Nik, the human brother who raised him, who believes in him absolutely, who refuses to accept that Cal is anything other than human and good (or at least not evil) at his core.
The external conflict of Roadkill is the chase of a Very Bad Dude across the country: an anti-healer, trapped for centuries in a coffin to prevent the outbreak of plagues, has been stolen. Cal & Nik go on the road to catch up with his thief, bringing Robin Goodfellow and his mummy-cat along for assistance. On the way, they meet up with Rafferty, a healer, and Catcher, his cousin, who join the hunt for reasons of their own. The internal conflict is, unsurprisingly, the struggle between Cal’s humanity and his Auphe-half.
The tale is narrated by Cal primarily, with a few chapters narrated by Catcher. I like Cal as narrator – he’s a sarcastic, funny, glass-half-empty kind of guy. But a little bit of comic relief is always appreciated. Catcher is (by his own admission) more than a glass-half-full guy – he’s interminably cheerful, a joker, always looking on the bright side.
Things I liked about the book:
- Salome, the mummy-cat who can kick the ass of a full grown werewolf
- Robin Goodfellow’s struggle with the idea of monogamy
- the Nik/Cal dynamic – organic s’mores, meditation, etc.
- the use of Rafferty and Catcher as parallels or foils for the Cal/Niko dynamic. (Except I don’t think it will end as easily or happily for Nik and Cal.) Oh, Catcher. And Rafferty. They broke my heart. The epilogue, which is all about Catcher, actually works and does not feel superfluous.
There was only one thing that I didn’t like, but it was significant: the external conflict was kind of . . . boring. After days of chasing the Big Bad and having side adventures, some causes by the Big Bad and some not, the ultimate confrontation wasn’t all that interesting. And it was interrupted by unfinished business that didn’t really make sense – why didn’t those chasers die like everyone and everything else that wasn’t being protected by Rafferty?
Think this is my stopping place in the series, because it feels like the larger struggle now is going to always be internal for Cal: human vs. Auphe halves, and there is no happy ending there.
Also, I’m a little disgusted by the behavior of the author, berating readers who didn’t buy when, how and where she wanted in order to make sure she made the NYT Best Seller list. I’m not linking to it, but you can probably find info about it if you google or check out Fandom_Wank.
It’s time to lock, load, and hit the road…
Once, while half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko were working on a case, an ancient gypsy queen gave them a good old-fashioned backstabbing. Now, just as their P.I. business hits a slow patch, the old crone shows up with a job.
She wants them to find a stolen coffin that contains a blight that makes the Black Death seem like a fond memory. But the thief has already left town, so the Leandros brothers are going on the road. And if they’re very, very lucky, there might even be a return trip…