Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tristan by K.M. Mahoney

Title: Tristan
Author: K.M. Mahoney
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Publisher: Amber Allure
Buy Link:Tristan
Genre: paranormal/shifter
Length: 41k words/138 pages

As one of the top paranormal investigators in his company, Tristan is used to the weird, inexplicable, and downright nasty. His latest case, though, is proving to be more trouble than it’s worth…

Tracking an elusive serial killer has Tristan heading for the one place he would prefer to avoid: Putman County. Between the often-frightening residents and his always-frightening relatives, it’s not exactly his preferred vacation spot. But Putman County is where his latest target was spotted, so that’s where he goes.

From day one, the situation spirals out of Tristan’s control. His target always seems to be one step ahead of him, his brother is mad at him, while his boss keeps calling him a dozen times a day. And one annoying werewolf is looking far too attractive for Tristan’s peace of mind!

It’s going to take every ounce of Tristan’s not-inconsiderable skill to track down a murderer. And it’s going to take every ounce of his courage to admit that he might be falling for the last person anyone would expect.

NOTE: This book is part of the Putman County series.

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I find myself perplexed by this book enough that I need to make a what worked for me/what didn’t work for me post. The whole didn’t hang together.


What worked:
The not-cookie cutter shape-shifters. Tristan is a bear, which was refreshing, I don’t read bear shifter stories every day, and his demeanor was  growly, which should be useful for an investigator for the paranormal. There is also an interesting twist here on the wolves, which added a nice dimension.

The setting – Putman County is a paranormal hotspot for reasons explained within the story. This makes what would otherwise be a quiet burg in the Midwest something of a trouble magnet. The locals are an interesting bunch. A previous story regarding Tristan’s brother and a fae sounds entertaining enough for me to track it down, and is hinted at here.

Some of the relationships – Tristan and his brother have some issues to work out, and this ran through the story in a calling BS way. Tristan had behaved unfairly toward Michael in the past and still had some guilt to work through. A nice bit of head-getting-removed-from-butt work, which seemed to get undone again. Lucas’ relationship with his parents was a good touch; all three parents had gone to great lengths to protect him when he needed it, and let him work it out when he didn’t.

What didn’t work:

Characterization: Lucas is described initially as the unofficial leader of the weres, but he’s much more the cute but geeky misfit with no social skills and he admits that some of the other wolves could take him. The description set up some expectations on my part that were repeatedly knocked down, because Lucas displayed zero leadership and damned little sense, and was in fact, the town creepy stalker. That part of his characterization had some internal logic to it, but didn’t endear him to me.

The relationship between Tristan and Lucas seemed to be based on something as invisible as gravity and as simple as sex, because while Lucas’ desire for Tristan was fairly straightforward, Tristan’s desires past sex didn’t seem to have much basis, because Lucas is pretty irritating, and his best moments happen when Tristan is elsewhere.

The investigation that brought Tristan back to Putman County got short shrift—hunting a killer wasn’t treated as being nearly as important as getting laid and sorting out family issues. Tristan’s ability as an investigator wasn’t evident, and his boss’s frequent intrusions seemed more that he really needed the handholding than pressure from above on a competent agent. He’s busy cementing ties with old friends and family while a serial killer is out there scoping his next victim. Most forward progress on finding the killer came from other directions, leaving me feeling that Tristan was irrelevant to the investigation, and that the investigation was irrelevant to Tristan. The blurb signals that disconnect—catching a serial killer is more trouble than it’s worth?

(I was really hoping that line was a case of “blurbs are hard to write.” It wasn’t.)

So, basically the external plot and the relationship didn’t hang together in any coherent way, nor did the relationship have more going for it than sex and some pity. Lucas exhibited a little bit of growth along the way that was one of the better aspects of the story, but in itself wasn’t enough to make the book an enjoyable read. There are other stories within the setting, and perhaps the next plot will shine as much as the idea of Putman County deserves. 2.5 marbles

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