Deathwish by Rob Thurman

Cal Leandros, #4


In a nightmarish new york city, life is there for the taking...

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother, Niko, are barely getting by with their preternatural detective agency when the vampire Seamus hires them. He's being followed, and he wants to know by whom. But the Leandros brothers have to do more than they had planned when Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead). — Worse still is the return of Cal's nightmarish family, the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, the Auphe were almost wiped out. Now they want revenge. Cal knows that before the Auphe get to him, they will try to destroy everything and everyone he holds dear. Because for the Auphe, Cal's pain is a pleasure.

And they're feeling good.

"People on Dr. Phil have issues. We have atomic-powered, demon-flavored, fresh-from-the-pits-of-hell, full-blowing fucking neuroses. Freud would've been in a corner sucking his thumb after one session with us."

I've now read four books in this series, and the same issue remains for me. It's a unique series that offers a different groove of Urban Fantasy tropes: male lead; two brothers fighting against the world; a dark, demented elfish race; lack of strong romantic interest for the male lead; no supernatural powers for the lead. Despite all these interesting changes compared to other books I've read in the same genre, my interest - while there - will only stay there on an average level. Again I'm not sure of the issue because the book checks off some positive points.

First, the writing is well-done. Rob Thurman injects sarcastic humor in the internal monologue and convincing dialogue while still keeping it gritty and dark. The style is almost choppy but it keeps things flowing without much lag or issue.

Characters are well-done - Cal stands out as the loner of the group dragged through life with his brothers support, worried about the darkness inside taking over the good, appreciating (and probably only surviving) because of his brothers faith in him. Niko is a favorite of many readers, but for me in the previous books he's almost two one-dimensional bad-ass goody-two-shoes. That changed a little in this installment since Thurman decided to evenly alternate chapter POV. Now I could be inside his head and, while he's still a little one-dimensional, he comes across sympathetic. Unfortunately switching point of views like that isn't my preferred method - I prefer either first-person all the way or third person.

Promise is an interesting sort for a vampire but nothing not seen or done before. Robin is always a laugh as a puck who drinks, orgies and does what good pucks do. His humor and admitted cowardice is a welcome opposite of Niko's no-nonsense full battle and honor approach.

Villains are always nasty and where the dark stuff seeps in. I can picture the world as dark and bluesy kind of like Gotham city in the Batman mythos. You know it's not a light, fun and shiny place they live in. From the smoke-laden and werewolf-frequented bars Cal works in, to the underground tunnels and creepy water borders and deep in the museum with the monsters, darkness reigns.

The Auphe are creepy and the author keeps introducing different cycles without dragging the story-line out. In the first book they loomed at the high danger when young Cal is absorbed into their earth's gate and escapes, and the second follows them to the new city and life. They popped up as a cliffhanger at the end of the third after a major battle, but it looks like some survived for a different kind of stand in the fourth book.

The story is intriguing and the pacing okay, but my interest ultimately hovers at a three stars "I like it" rating. I think some of the issue is the story is feeling a little repetitive now - Cal has kept the same issues for all the books, much of the same dialogue exchanges between him and Niko on not giving it up, they are still battling monsters for money and survival in the same environment.

   Book Quotes:

“You're so very good at that. The temper, the scowl. You must drink shots of testosterone in your morning coffee.”

   Cover Gallery: