Title: Cold as the Clay (Duncan Andrews Thrillers #6)
Author: Stephen Osborne
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 183 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Private detective Duncan Andrews is used to dealing with things strange and bizarre. Luckily, he’s got friends to back him up, including Gina, a witch, Robbie, his boyfriend, and Daisy, their zombie bulldog. A new case brings Duncan face-to-face with a demon named Asmodeus. If that wasn’t enough, one of the original Gorgons wants revenge against Duncan for killing her sister. Duncan and his team must pull out all the stops if they’re going to get through this alive.
As with the other books in the series, this is a standalone story. The characters are reintroduced through the early part of the book so notionally it could be read in isolation, particularly as the individuals do not evolve. The structure of this book differs somewhat from previous books in the series. In that there are two primary threads, each told from the perspective of one of the characters. Chapters and even sections alternate from the different viewpoints and the writing changes from first to third person throughout. As this these changes are well flagged it does not cause difficulty in understanding. It does however make the flow a little disjointed.
Characterisation is strongest with the central characters. Bad guys tend to be dispatched before the reader gets to know anything about them. There is a growing sense of menace that draws nearer and ultimately results in a confrontation. There are different locations introduced in this story, but the author does not devote a lot of time to develop the context in most of the scenes. This is unfortunate as there is no real sense of place.
The confrontation between the good and the bad guys does result in violence, injury and death, but although details are provided they are not dwelt upon.
Whilst there is sex in the story, it is not the focus. Two pairs of lovers are presented and offer an interesting contrast. Whilst there is close interaction between the characters there is no evidence of jealousy or uncertainty. As with the more recent books in the series, this is not a tale about the evolution of a relationship. Everything is established and familiar. The emphasis is rather on how situations impact upon this stability.
Despite the to and fro of the writing, there is a steady pace to the story. Secondary storylines are introduced to add variety. These promise added tension and interest, but sadly they build well but are resolved very quickly. It would have been more interesting if one of these had an impact on the central theme, just to add richness to the tale.
The denouement has a reasonable build up and development. Certainly the focus of the book is centred on the approach of the bad character and the predictions surrounding it. The ultimate clash involves all of the key characters and the outcome is somewhat predictable although there is an interesting twist that allows for a follow-on book. The battle is somewhat abbreviated and despite all the development is a bit of an anti-climax. Ultimately there is a happy ending of sorts and most of the threads are tidied up.