Moonshine by Rob Thurman

(Cal Leandros Series, #2)
Urban Fantasy

It brings out the animal in everyone…

After saving the world from his fiendish father's side of the family, Cal Leandros and his stalwart half-brother Niko have settled down with new digs and a new gig-bodyguard and detective work. And in New York City, where preternatural beings stalk the streets just like normal folk, business is good. Their latest case has them going undercover for the Kin-the werewolf Mafia. A low-level Kin boss thinks a rival is setting him up for a fall, and wants proof. The place to start is the back room of Moonshine-a gambling club for non-humans. Cal thinks it's a simple in-and-out job. But Cal is very, very wrong.
Cal and Niko are being set up themselves-and the people behind it have a bite much worse than their bark...

And the people behind it have a bite much worse than their bark…

I was pretty excited to read this one after enjoying the first so much. Not a bad book, but the story was not nearly as interesting in the way it was done until the second half of the book. Still going to continue reading the series, this one was just a bit lackluster to me.

Cal is still struggling adapting to what he found out he is, moving around a lot with his brother, learning to fight and be responsible, all the while keeping up his sarcastic personality, pessimism, and mistrust.  I can truly imagine the lifestyle would be exhausting and hideous. Nikos is still dedicated, disciplined, and a little too perfect for me to like much but he is clearly supposed to be and remain one of the two mains of the series.

The book is rich with plenty of mystical characters in the urban setting: Cal's family foe history, unglamorous type weres, a beautiful vampire woman who has caught Niko's eye and interest, and a psychic girl who's attached to Cal. I was happy to see Robin return, as he was such a hoot and intriguing character from the first story. The scenes where he flirts with Niko, which Cal finds amusing and Niko a bit uncomfortable, are particularly amusing.

The story starts out a bit slow and there's a lot of inner monologue and worrying which keeps driving the chapters to build up to the main meat and heart of the tale. This is a bit off putting and while still a good book, I wasn't as grabbed by far as I was by the brilliant beginning build-up and mystery of the first.

This series is truly a darker Urban Fantasy. There's grimness and an overhanging shadow of doom and despair. The characters are all serious, with the exception of Robin's light banter, but still there's always a lot at stake, violence around every corner, and potential impeding doom, destruction, disaster, death, you name it. The d's of darkness are ever present here and each story is saturated with it.

To me it was disorientating sometimes because with some scenes instead of reading through them, Cal would suddenly be ahead of what happened and replay what happened after the fact. I find this to be a bit distant and distracting.  In Nightlife it made more sense to do this as the writer did, considering looking back on what happened slowly was the point to show there was a mystery and to reveal little details at a time for the reader. In Moonshine there really is very little mystery and it's more of an action themed story, so the flashbacks of the scene rather than writing through it don't make as much sense of dramatic impact. In addition, Moonshine used this technique even more than Nightlife did, even though it doesn't make sense to really use it at all.

When Cal is not focusing a little too much on inner angst, the pacing is pretty good and action fierce. While I didn't care as much for this one, I still am anxious to get the rest of the series and see more unfold. I want to see more of the monsters from the first book again heavier too, the Auphe.

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