Title: Infected: Bloodlines
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy
Length: 217 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Hankies at the ready for this well written mystery with a tragically sad conclusion.
** This review contains spoilers **
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.
The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. The newly married Roan is struggling to balance his work with his home life as he grows increasingly distracted by his husband Paris’s declining health. One case with strong emotions attached takes up most of his time: finding the murderer of a missing little rich girl. It’s a family with secrets so toxic they’d rather no one investigate, and there’s no shortage of suspects. But despite the dangers and obstructions involved, Roan won’t stop… until he loses something infinitely precious as well.
I’ve loved the world building and the characters in Andrea Speed’s Infected series, so much so that even though I knew this was going to be a sad book without any hope of a HEA, I still got my box of tissues ready and sat down to read.
The book follows on from Infected: Prey. Roan and Paris have just recently been married in Canada and since then Paris’ health has been deteriorating at a fast rate, as each time the virus forces him to change into a tiger, he grows closer to death. Ironically, as Roan notes on several occasions, the circumstances of the previous book has caused Roan to find peace with his inner lion, leading to an increase in Roan’s health and vitality. When Roan is approached by a friend to discover the whereabouts of a missing troubled girl, Roan is torn between his job as a PI and spending as much time with Paris before the inevitable happens.
Infected: Bloodlines is really divided into two areas. The first is the mystery plot surrounding the missing girl. This was a tightly written but fairly insubstantial story and Roan solves the mystery reasonably easily. Having said that, this part of the book allowed us to see how far Roan has come in controlling the lion beneath his skin. It also provided some interesting themes around power, corruption and the lengths people will go to in order to retain that. Alongside the mystery is the ever present continuation of the theme of both the virus and of being gay. Roan encounters a few characters with differing views on their own sexuality, and of being infected and I felt this offered up a well rounded set of views on some of the major themes of the book.
The second area, and perhaps the main focus of this story, is Roan and Paris’ relationship in the face of Paris’ declining health. Those of you who were hoping for a miracle cure or a last minute reprieve for Paris are going to be disappointed. You will cry. I did – so much so that I could barely read the last 10 pages through my tears. However, before that, the main aspect of this part of the story is the comparison between how Roan and Paris are facing up to the future. Paris has made peace with his death and faces it with dignity, more worried about how it will affect Roan than for his own fears. Roan spends much of the book trying to ignore it and push the thoughts of Paris’ death away. As a result, his feelings are internalised, only showing when he knows he is alone or displaying themselves in anger. It was heartbreaking to read, especially as we spend most of the book in Roan’s head, experiencing his absolute love for Paris and his fears and frustrations that he cannot defeat death for him. As a piece of writing exploring the effect of oncoming grief and loss of a partner, this was superbly written and extremely moving. The story ends at what I am hoping is the bleakest point for Roan. I know there are more books in the series and I’m hoping that after this point things will get better.
I did have a few niggles about the story. Firstly, there was something odd going on with the narrative style in places, especially when the narrative moved away from Roan. I think this was because there was an over-reliance on the passive voice in these sections which jarred a little and pulled me out of the story. Secondly, although I didn’t guess the bad guy, the mystery was a little weak and relied quite heavily on supposition and accidental discovery.
These are only small niggles in a story which hooked me from page one and I couldn’t put down until the end. There were other things I liked too, such as the way that Paris was preparing for his death behind Roan’s back, or that the author feeds us in several ideas about secondary characters which will probably be picked up later in the series – or at least I hope they are – which made the plotting in terms of the overall character arc for Roan and the other characters in this series subtle and interesting. I also enjoyed being back in this complex Urban Fantasy world and all the intricacies of living in a world where those with the cat virus are treated with a mixture of fear, disgust and awe.
I know that many of you will be put off by the lack of HEA. I knew before I even started the book that it would not end well, and in a way that was easier for me. It’s certainly made me look forward to reading the next book in the Infected series which I hope will be out soon.