Title: Duncan Andrews Thrillers Vol. 1 (#1-4)
Author: Stephen Osborne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Genre(s): Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 642
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Private detective Duncan Andrews’s best friend Gina is a witch. His dog is a zombie. And his dead boyfriend, Robbie, is a ghost. So it’s hardly any wonder that he uses his connection to the supernatural to help him solve cases.
In Pale as a Ghost, Duncan’s on the trail of a serial killer who may not be human, while also trying to move on in his dating life.
In Animal Instinct, someone is using the skull of a powerful wizard—Gina’s father—to control animals and attack young Ashton Marsh.
In The Scarlet Tide, Duncan’s latest case leads him to Chicago and a band whose members are all vampires.
And in Dead End, Robbie’s cousin Jason has moved into a house that’s haunted by a serial killer, and Gina’s on the run from witch-hunters. Through it all, Duncan must solve the case and balance a complicated personal life.
Why did I not know about these earlier?! These books hit all my happy buttons – they had all the items that I love to see in a good book:
• Engaging plots
• Interesting characters
• A touch of noir
• Great paranormal aspect (zombie dogs! Ghosts! Witches!)
• Tug the heartstrings a little bit
The plots were interesting without becoming overly cheesy. The characters were kept real. The paranormal was done with a balanced touch and didn’t drift into the overly dramatic or cheesy. The mystery/detective side avoided sliding into some common tropes. Best of all, the humor balanced out the bits that made me want to reach for a tissue.
Pale as a Ghost
The reader is introduced to the main characters: Duncan Andrews, detective. Robbie, his dead lover. Gina, certified witch. Daisy, zombie dog. Duncan is juggling a couple of cases – one is a missing daughter and one is who is murdering and gutting local strippers. If that wasn’t keeping him busy enough, he’s also trying to cope with being celibate for the last 10 years and how to tell Robbie the Ghost that he wants to start having a physical relationship with other men. Robbie’s not taking it well.
Our eclectic cast of characters is back, but this time Gina’s in trouble when she receives warning from her father that someone has stolen his skull and is using it for nefarious purposes. When she lands in a coma after an attack by bats, it’s up to Duncan to figure out where the skull is. Meanwhile, he’s been hired to protect the youngest son of a wealthy man, and Duncan quickly realizes the two situations are connected. If that’s not enough to keep a man busy, Robbie is talking about “moving on” and Nick’s not sure he can handle being “just friends”.
The Scarlet Tide
A young man contacts Duncan when his boyfriend starts behaving abnormally. Duncan soon discovers there’s vampires on the loose (I never did quite get the Chicago connection mentioned in the blurb…must have missed something) and vows to take them all down. Single handedly. On his own. Without backup. Meanwhile, Robbie has picked a date to “move on” and is planning his “Going Away Party”, which Duncan is firmly refusing to acknowledge. Nick asked Gina for the gift to see and talk to ghosts, and Gina goes on vacation in Salem. Staying alive suddenly becomes very complicated.
If Duncan thought the vampires were bad, they’re nothing compared to the evil lurking in Robbie’s cousins Jason’s house. On top of a murdering malignant spirit, Duncan finds out from a demon that someone is out to harm Gina. Duncan, Nick, Robbie and Gina combine forces to combat one evil ghost when things go horribly, horribly wrong.
As I noted above, I really enjoyed this series. They are just long enough, light enough, and interesting enough to keep the reader engaged and wanting to turn the page. With that being said, I do have a couple points of contention: I did grow somewhat wearisome of Duncan and Robbie’s ‘To Move On’ or ‘Not Move On’ discussions. A couple times it felt like the plots were just way too similar and I was concerned the stories might be getting into cookie cutter territory, but, kudos to the author, there was enough to keep the plots individual yet linear. And by book number four, things were definitely shaken up.
So if you like zombie dogs, witches, and ghosts with a wicked sense of humor, you’ll enjoy these.