The Little Crow
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Cover Artist: Tabatha Heart
Length: 25k words
Detective Jamison Landry knew his job was never going to be easy. He’s dealt with the worst criminals imaginable and believes in his work and the community he serves. But he’s never met someone like Mal before. The mysterious man keeps him guessing, both confuses and excites him and Jamison isn’t sure how he feels about him. Things turn from unusual to downright strange when people start insisting Mal isn’t quite human. And Jamison’s creepy dreams of crows and graveyards don’t make things any better for him. Will Mal stay around long enough for Jamison to figure out his secrets or will this stranger leave him wanting more?
After finishing this story, I was left with the distinct feeling that I had not read a complete story arc. Beginning at a raid on a cult’s quarters and rescuing their bound captive, and ending on a highly ambiguous note, I followed along with the gathering sense that all was not as it should be, but was not left with any demonstration of what to do about it or why. Jamison Landry, the MC, was not having as easy a time putting the clues together and has equally little resolution.
Jamison is faced repeatedly with strange things happening around the man he rescued, but such peculiar events as his captain insisting Jamison host Mal in his own home, or having the secrets of others laid bare to him, aren’t making him worry. He’s understandably slow to decide that Mal’s influence might be causing this. Unfortunately, he also seems very slow to realize that strange things do happen around Mal, and his sense of alarm is so blunted as to be very frustrating.
Even when he’s provoked to the point of shooting, it’s very difficult to feel Jamison’s emotions—we are told them, but the sense of being in his head just isn’t there. What should be creepy and frightening is then more annoying, because the signals that he should be feeling various emotions are there but the actual feeling is not. Jamison was very difficult to connect to because of this, even though he’s the POV character.
Mal is much easier to read and to connect to—his offers are sincere if occasionally horrifying, his moods easily read. He wants what he wants and he’s not accustomed to being denied. “You shouldn’t have freed me,” he tells Jamison, and Jamison never wonders why.
The story arc here is “Mal is one strange dude” which isn’t complete. Subplots are introduced, such as tension with Jamison’s detective partner, Carter, and a cold case for them to investigate, but don’t venture past the initial mentions towards the end of the story. All in all, this read like the introductory act of a much longer book, and it ends with nothing resolved.
The beginnings of the second book are included at the end, which makes it even more clear that development and resolution of the plot and subplots take place elsewhere. The story is not billed as a serial novel but probably should be.
The setting could be Anywhere, USA; there aren’t any clues aside from a quick reference to the automobile industry to place the story. The police department seems big enough to have several distinct departments, but everyone does everything until someone has a jurisdictional snit, which feels handwavy. These things would be easier to overlook with a complete plot arc to occupy attention.
I’m interested enough to want to know how this plays out, but I really want the entire story in one volume before I pick it up again. 2.5 marbles