[UPDATE: Those of you who already read this; remember my testosterone comments? I stand by those, but I want to note that Rob Thurman is female. I didn’t know that! I guess this proves women can write annoyingly gritty as well as men, at least to my unobservant mind.]
After my discount, I paid $2.40 for Doubletake, the seventh Cal Leandros urban fantasy adventure by Rob Thurman.
Without my discount, I would have paid $4.00, Mockingbird’s sticker price. While I enjoyed it for $2.40, at $4.00 I would have been disappointed in this testosterone-laced supernatural adventure.
To be fair, this is Book Seven. I might have been more engaged and slightly less irritated if I had shared earlier adventures with the half-human half-monster Cal and his half-brother (you’re seeing a pattern emerge) Niko. Not that Thurman’s character doesn’t name-check his previous adventures all the way through the book.
A lot happens in Doubletake; there’s even a plot. It’s just at the end, nothing is resolved. Based on one book, I would say this series devotes its primary attention to the overarching storyline – what in TV they call the “mythology”—rather than the individual story in each book. Here is a spoiler-free summation:
Cal and Nikos fight beasties and banter/ Cal is half-monster/ flashback to evil sociopathic mom/ “What’s that big metal thing up there?”/ gaybaiting/brothers before others/ “It’s a giant killer robot!”/ Evil-other/ bro-stuff/Desert Eagle/mom was evil/more gaybaiting/mom was slutty/bros before foes!/Niko’s adversarial dad shows up/bro-stuff/monster stuff/first adventure fails/ another Desert Eagle! They’re given’ ‘em away!/ monster stuff/ bro stuff/evil-other broods and monologues/Beasties!/ Killer Robot!/mom was evil and slutty/ Twist ending/Scary fight scene!/Bro stuff!/ ending/happily ever after for right now/ Or is it?
(Okay, this is really, really picky and I would probably know the answer if I’d read the earlier books: mom was evil and slutty and would sleep with anyone, I assume. But the race that Cal comes from were supernatural apex predators, the Auphe. They think themselves superior to everything, especially humans. So why would an Auphe have sex with a human woman? Did she get it drunk first or something?)
Did I mention the testosterone? It oozes out between the pages of this book is such thick globs that women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant probably should not read this book without a doctor’s approval.
Cal and Niko are such seriously enmeshed siblings that they give the Winchester brothers on Supernatural a run for their money.
In some respects, Cal is like Richard Kadrey’s character James Stark from the Sandman Slim books. Doubletake gave me a chance to remember how much I like Sandman Slim. Stark is also a half-human badass and there are plenty of male hormones swirling around those books too, but somehow – and maybe it’s an east-coast/west-coast thing – there’s more oxygen in Kadrey’s books. Cal’s endless mantras about brotherhood just suck all the air out of the story.
Now, the action sequences are brisk, and the otherworldly creatures inventive, even if the constant low-level sexual harassment of Niko by the male pansexual puck Robin Goodfellow is not as funny as it should be, and there is a nice touch of Simon R. Greene in the humor. There is an audience for Thurman’s series. It’s not me. I’m guessing it’s white, male and aged 18-34.