Title: Infected: Life After Death
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Infected: Life After Death
Genre: M/M Urban fantasy romance
Length: 350 pages
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
No need for hankies with this third book of the Infected series, but it’s still a tough journey for Roan as he struggles with his grief.
This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the Infected series but not for this third book in the series
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.
Those readers who toughed it out during book two as we followed Paris’ decline and death are no doubt hoping for a slightly cheerier read in this third book. You may well be a little disappointed then because, although Life After Death isn’t the weepy that Bloodlines was, it’s still very melancholic in tone.
The story begins a year after the end of the last book. Roan is finally dragging himself out of the mire of his grief and depression, mainly because one of his friends organises a client for his detective agency. Work brings a sense of purpose for Roan as helps a woman who thought her husband had died but now isn’t sure and needs Roan to track him down. Working on the case means that Roan is out and about more and he finds himself being watched carefully by his friends, as well as getting to know one of the bartenders at Panic, his and Paris’ old gay club haunt, a little better.
One of the most interesting parts of this series has been watching Roan change and develop over the course of three books. This change becomes even more marked now as he no longer has Paris’ calming influence over him. Roan was always a sarcastic man with a quick temper and cruel tongue at times, this only increases as this book progresses. At times he can barely hold his temper, which leads to painful changes as his lion virus tries to take over each time he grows angry. It is alarming to both Roan and the reader as to just how barely in control he is during the book, and how he revels in his ability to intimidate and frighten at times. I also found his casual cruelty towards some of his friends a little off putting. Matt in particular bears the brunt of Roan’s sarcasm on a number of occasions, and whilst I could understand why Roan acted as he did, I couldn’t help but feel very sorry for Matt. By the end of the book, Matt has been reduced to an almost pathetic figure, some of which is due to Roan’s treatment of him.
Having said all that, Roan is still an absolutely fascinating man. His constant struggle with his grief over Paris is affecting as is the way that he is slowly trying to regain some interest in his life and occupation. His relationship with Dylan is both good and bad, I think. Dylan is a good influence on Roan and very opposite in temperament. However, I couldn’t help but get the impression that Dylan isn’t really going to be the one for Roan in the end. That maybe his and Dylan’s relationship will not stand the test of time. This is mostly because Roan tells this to the reader, but also because there was no spark between them, and as such the romance feels a little flat.
The other fascinating thing about this series has been the world of the cat virus created by the author. In this book we are slowly gaining insights into Roan as a virus child, as well as seeing some of the political changes starting to take place to help control the cats. Although this is not a huge part of the book, it all added to the setting and I get the impression that things are not going to go so well for infected people in future books. It will be interesting to see what the author does with this theme.
I have one pretty major negative with this book to do with the plotting. Towards the end of the first part of the story, Roan is approached by a former police colleague and asked to investigate the disappearance of a male prostitute. Shortly after that, the first part of the book suddenly ends and the story moves a year into the future (although there is a typo which claims it’s only a month later). The plot thread involving the missing prostitute is then dropped and never referred to again. This irked me no end as I like all my plot threads to be tidied up.
However, that annoyance wasn’t enough to completely spoil my enjoyment of this absorbing book. I said earlier that the book was melancholic in tone, but this is tempered on occasion by bright flashes of humour – usually of the sardonic kind from Roan, by the genuine caring that many of Roan’s friends show for his well being and by the amusing character of Fiona, the dominatrix mentioned in the blurb, who was a welcome breath of fresh air into Roan’s life.
Those of you who have stuck with the Infected series so far are going to enjoy this one too. Those who have read book 1 and couldn’t face book 2, can pick up the story here with very little difficulty. As for me, I eagerly await the next in the series as I just can’t seem to get Roan out of my head and want to know whether there will ever be a silver lining for his cloud.