Title: Three of Swords (Precog in Peril #1)
Author: Theo Fenraven
Cover Artist: Theo Fenraven
Publisher: Voodoo Lily Press (self)
Buy at Amazon
Length: 37k words
old houseboat, a hot young guy, a couple of murders, and more
mysterious keys than you can shake a stick at: this is what awaits Gray
Vecello after his grandfather, Graham, is killed picking up high blood
A letter Graham left behind sends Gray and his
unexpected ally, Cooper Key, on a journey downriver in an attempt to
unravel the mystery surrounding an unknown treasure. On the way, they
encounter both friends and enemies, one of whom will target Gray and
Cooper for death. One thing working in Gray’s favor: he has the sight,
just as Graham had, but will it be enough to save them both?
First off, I loved the title. Precog in Peril? Shouldn’t he see whatever it is coming? Maybe—it’s an unpredictable gift.
opens the story at his grandfather’s funeral. He never much liked the
old coot, but he feels somewhat responsible—what if you saw something
coming and didn’t say anything about it? Gray has the Sight, but he
doesn’t entirely trust it and hasn’t always acted on what he sees.
old man had some talent in that direction as well, and also had an old
houseboat with a young tenant, both of which he left to Gray. Cooper,
eighteen and missing a few basic skills for getting along in life, knows
how to run and maintain the boat, so Gray, a hairdresser by profession,
lets him stick around, and besides, he’s hot and gay.
unwinds in a series of clues, which makes me want to take a stick to the
old man—he knew a lot but didn’t share it, even though Gray “was his
favorite.” The reasoning seemed both plausible and flimsy, but done is
done and now Gray has to sort out what’s going on, with Cooper’s help.
They journey up and down the waterways of Minnesota in search of the
next puzzle piece.
I liked Gray; he’s both cynical and open to new
experiences, being willing to dump his entire life when something
intriguing comes along. Cooper isn’t such a vivid personality—his
background hasn’t left him as worldly as might be expected, and he’s
everyone’s tabula rasa. Convince him he is or could be
something, he’s all over it, but he doesn’t really decide values on his
own. This includes his relationship with Gray, which is basically a done
deal once a third party told him it would happen.
style is smooth but the development is uneven to the point of not being a
romance. Cooper’s a trusty sidekick, and he’s going to be essential to
the larger story but the real plot is Gray’s abilities and what he can
or should do with them, and how to stay alive and free while doing it.
The psychic set-up has some standard elements such as being unreliable,
tarot-assisted, and that it’s helpful to have a spirit guide. What’s
new, or at least new to me, is the structure of the psychic plane.
story is definitely Act One of a larger arc, since an immediate threat
is more or less resolved by the end of the story, but the larger mystery
has yet to be completely identified, let alone solved. Hints of a
shadowy organization who’d like to exploit Gray’s talents disturb his
composure, and the few allies he’s collecting may not be enough help.
set-up and the setting are interesting enough that I’ll be on the watch
for the next installment. So far the plot and relationships haven’t
been totally gripping, but the author may uncork something startling in
the next segment. 3.5 stars