Review of The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton

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Revised Rating: 4.25 stars on 6/10/2013

So, here it is Mea Culpa time.  I just finished reading, out of order again, the other two books in this series and now have to revise my rating upward.  I think what irritated me so much about this book was that it showed so much promise, that the characters were able to hit home even as they dangled in the atmosphere so to speak, that I took it to heart that it felt incomplete.   I get emotional about  stories and authors that resonate with me for some reason, and this author and book did.

After finishing The Hellfire Legacy, I knew that I had made a mistake.  The author had a sensational series on her hand and I blew it by reading them  out of order.  Taken together and read, 1-2-3, they are spectacular and one of my favorite series of the year.  But they must be read in sequence as only the first book could be considered a stand alone.

If you read this book as I did (out of sequence), then the review holds up.  It really does seem to be floating around, cut loose from it’s mooring and adrift without a map.  But the characters I fell in love with in The Hanged Man’s Ghost (Night Wars #1) and were firmly addicted to by The Hellfire Legacy (Night Wars #3)  are all here, but just as cut loose from their foundations as was the book.  It is my opinion that each and every book should contain the same elements, regardless of whether they are a part of a series or to be read by itself.  Considering how necessary the first book is to ground the characters with their history and relationship circumstances, I still believe it  even more important that some of that narrative needs to be included in the next book in the series. This helps readers remember particular plot points and connections between events and characters, especially if there is a long time between publication dates.

So with the first and third books fully in mind, I found myself nodding in appreciation over aspects of character development here and how certain events further along the overall series objectives.  I really liked this story while agreeing with my original assessment that it needed further  exposition and background support.

I love this series and think you will too.  But again, read them as the author intended, starting with The Hanged Man’s Ghost and continuing on. This series will delight you even while sending chills down your spine and whiten your knuckles.  Continue through to The Hellfire Legacy.  I hope the author has much more ahead for us.  I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Rating: 2.75 stars

Flynn Adder, husband to Jack, father to Tara, former addict, has been assigned a new partner, Simon, to train.  Simon is young, troubled and the son of a mob boss in the city.  Flynn, in trouble with his  boss, has a large case load at their Agency which handles cases dealing with the supernatural elements in town, the werewolves, the vampires, necromancers, trolls and more. It’s his daughter’s birthday. So just as Flynn is coordinating her party, he and Simon get thrown a gruesome case.  A young boy is found dead and all the evidence points to a new necromancer in town.  As Flynn, Simon and the rest of the investigators of the Unit work to gather clues, another boy is killed and it looks as though the necromancer is also working with a vampire but to what end?  The race is on to find out who the necromancer is and stop them before more children die.  If that wasn’t enough, someone is stealing mystical objects from the evidence vault to sell on the black market.  It has to be a inside job and suspicion is falling on Simon.  It’s enough to shake Flynn loose from his sobriety if things aren’t solved soon on The Night Shift.

This will be a short review.  When learning the basics of writing, one things we are all taught is that whether it is a short story or novel, there is a structure to be followed, there is a beginning, a middle and an end.  And each part has a distinct purpose.  The beginning is where the author introduces the main characters, the setting, the goals, and any conflict.  The middle is where a series of events happen. This is also where the characters grow as they deal with the conflicts within the story.  While some elements of the story are resolved the story “continues in the direction of a major crisis, or climax.”* And finally, the end where the storyline is resolved, any conflicts or loose ends tied up, and the reader is left satisfied by a well told tale.  Up until now, all the stories I have reviewed or read have followed those rules.

Missouri Dalton in The Night Shift totally disregards the basic tenants of writing in my opinion.  Here, the novel starts in the middle.  I have no backstory on any of the main characters, only able to glean what I could a little at a time.  Flynn is an addict, his husband Jack used to be his partner, they have a daughter.  Supernatural creatures are a common element in society.  Flynn has some background with Simon that we are supposed to know about but don’t.  Simon has a backstory we are supposed to be familiar with but aren’t.  And we are left totally in the dark about the Agency they all work for.   Flynn has a twin brother, Michael, who is dead but alive (living corpse? who knows?).  Michael tried to commit suicide which left him brain damaged but he is also schizophrenic and possessive of his brother.  I think he was dead and then tried to kill himself again and was hospitalized but  I really am not sure of anything here.  It is all middle ground.  There are some nice elements buried in the reader’s confusion and shear bafflement over the storyline and characterizations.  It all could have been resolved with a beginning that is desperately needed.

So no beginning, a promising but confusing middle and here is the real problem.  Absolutely no ending, just a cliffhanger.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It leaves an already confused reader hanging with a cliffhanger and does not resolve the story.  I just find that so unprofessional. Now I know of several authors who write these wonderful serial free stories on their blogs and websites.  And that is great and I have enjoyed them immensely.  But The Night Shift is a novel that you are expected to buy at $6.99!  If I had purchased this book at that price, I would be clamoring for my money back.

I will leave you all with this final thought.  If you like Missouri Dalton’s fiction and want to read this book, wait!  Make sure there is a sequel, although given the way this was handled, I don’t know that I would trust that book to be resolved at the end either. Or if you like cliffhangers and don’t care if you never find out what happens to the main character, then go ahead and read this.  I promise you the frustration you seek.  As for me, I am totally done here.

Cover:  Nice cover by Alessio Brio, the 2nd cover by the artist that I have seen.

Review of Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) by Lavinia Lewis

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Leopard shifter Gregory Hale has been sent by the supernatural council to pick up a young jaguar shifter in Las Vegas and bring him into Council headquarters as they have determined the young man’s loner status has made him a potential danger to the humans around him.  But Gregory has watched Hayden at a distance for days and everything about the young shifter shouts neglect and pain.  When Gregory finally contacts Hayden, he realizes that Hayden is his mate but there is no acknowledgement on Hayden’s part that the recognition is mutual.  Hayden is skinny to the point of starvation and his face is marred by a raw scar that stretches from eye to mouth on one side of his face, a scar that should have healed when Hayden shifts.  Hayden has come from a traumatized past, but he won’t confide in Gregory, not yet at least. More than ever, Gregory is determined not to let Hayden fall into the council’s hands and he pretends to his superiors that Hayden has slipped away from him, to their immediately displeasure.  Gregory is, in fact, taking Hayden to Kelan’s Crazy Horse Ranch knowing the Alpha will help him hide Hayden and keep him safe.

Gregory still has the corruption within the council to deal with and a new series of murders to investigate.  Someone is murdering the mates of council  members, as Gregory knows all too well. Now with a mate of his own to protect, Gregory needs to get to the real culprit behind the killings before its too late.

The Shifters’ Haven series is built around Wolf Creek, Texas and its pack of wolf shifters.  Wolf Creek is two thirds shifters in population, a situation that the human population is ignorant of as all shifters have worked hard to keep themselves hidden. Each book brings together a different mated pair with a continuous plot line of dissension among the Supernatural Council which is composed of shifters of all types, from hawk to cougar. From the first installment, you are made aware of the Council who governs all shifters with their rules and regulations and the possibility of corruption within that impacts Wolf Creek and beyond.  From book to book, each time a member of the Council intervenes or arrives on the scene, you become less assured as to who the “good guys” are.  Also each book widens the Wolf Creek pack with new family members and sometime new species of shifters are given haven.

Gregory’s Rebellion picks up right where Nate’s Deputy leaves off, with Gregory on his way to Las Vegas on council  business. Gregory is still heartbroken over the events that happened back in Wolf Creek and unsettled because the real leader behind the shifter problems and crimes has  not been fully identified, at least not with proof he can use.  There has been a really nice development of Gregory’s character from book to book, from his first appearance as a council member somewhat rigid in demeanor to the compassionate person he is here.  But my focus was on Hayden, who was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 by his parents for being gay, an all too real occurrence.  Hayden has suffered since being thrown out of his home and family and has done what he had to in order to survive on the streets.  He has no self confidence, he is all shame and humiliation, his trauma written across his face in a scar he refuses to heal as a measure of his torment and degradation.  When Gregory comes into his life, he has just arrived at a modicum of security, with a boss who regards him as more family than employee and a job he likes.  Now all of that is gone in an instant, disrupted by a stranger who tells him the council is after him and wants his trust.  Lewis does a beautiful job in conveying Hayden’s confusion and fear.  I became invested in Hayden from the very beginning and stayed so to the end.  You will too.

Also carrying over is the issue of corruption in the council and the fact that someone is murdering the mates of council members, but to what end? Gregory gets caught up in trying to deal with his new mated status as well as his investigation into the problems of being part of a council he no longer trusts or believes in.  Again, all very credible and in keeping with the persona of an honorable man trying to do what’s right when confronted with the reality behind the supernatural council.  Lewis’ wonderful way with location and characterization is in top form here. It is becoming a saga of Wolf Creek versus the old order of council rule, a storyline that has intrigued me since the start of the series.

Once more, I felt the ending rushed and not as satisfactory as it might have felt to have the villain meet his comeuppance. Had the story lasted a little longer and with a more detailed exposition, then the end would feel more complete given the buildup.  Perhaps Lewis is doing this intentionally to keep the thread going in the next book up, Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7).  I hope so, for it’s an interesting part of all of their stories  and it doesn’t feel finished yet.  So I am waiting impatiently for October and the next in the series.  Pick up the first book, read them all and meet me here for No. 7.  See you then.

Once again Posh Gosh is giving us lush, gorgeous covers for the entire series. Beautiful branding and great design for each and every book.

Here are the Shifter Haven series in the order they were written and should be read in order to fully appreciate the characters, relationships and plots.

Luke’s Surprise (Shifters’ Haven #1) . Luke Morgan and Mark Malone’s story

Cody’s Revelation (Shifters’ Haven #2) – Cody Morgan and Stefan Drake’s story

Kelan’s Pursuit (Shifters’ Haven #3) – Kelan Morgan and Jake Bradfield’s story

Aaron’s Awakening (Shifters’ Haven #4) – Aaron Drake and Cary Lewis

Nate’s Deputy (Shifters’ Haven #5) – Nate and Jared. Read my review here.

Gregory’s Rebellion (Shifters’ Haven #6) – Gregory and Hayden

Pete’s Persuasion (Shifters’ Haven #7) coming in October 2012