Title: Infected: Shift
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Infected: Shift (Infected Series)
Genre: M/M urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Length: 370 pages
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: Another wonderfull installment in the Infected series sees Roan and Dylan’s relationship running into difficulties as Roan’s virus develops in new and surprising ways.
In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.
Between his mutating virus and his rocky relationship with his artist boyfriend, Dylan, Roan has enough problems to solve without taking on other people’s, but that’s the nature of his work. Someone has to look into the case of the murdered trans woman, and if the perp is the dirty cop Roan suspects it is, the police are not the right people for the job.
But now Roan has a new obstacle to overcome: someone caught part of his transformation on video, and the media frenzy is making it hard to do his job. One case nets him a hockey team full of new friends. Another leads to an attempt on his life. And Roan’s hustler sidekick drags him on a quest for revenge. With his world and his body both in turmoil, Roan is finding it harder and harder to see the line between justice and vigilantism.
Just a quick warning that there maybe spoilers for the previous books in the Infected series in this review.
After thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is my favourite book in this Infected series so far. It’s more assuredly written for a start with a cohesion which has been missing from some of the other books. It’s tighter in terms of pacing, and less inclined to wander off from the plot. I also found that the two parts of the book were more fluid in the way they were connected than in past books and I was pleased to see that some of the niggles I’ve had in the past with the writing were all but ironed out in this book. There’s still the great characterisation, the imaginative and complex setting, and the breathtaking emotion that can be found in the other books but that is now coupled with a maturity in the writing which made the reading experience flow more smoothly.
Shift follows on almost directly from the previous book Freefall. Like the other books, it’s divided into two linked parts. Part one follows Roan as he looks into the death of a murdered transexual woman and in part two he is on the case of a missing spoiled rich kid. Throughout the book, Roan is trying to combat depression and save the world at the same time. His increasingly reckless behaviour, especially after being told his next shift could cause a fatal brain hemorrhage, puts pressure on his relationship with Dylan.
I’ve said in previous reviews that I wasn’t wholly convinced about Roan’s relationship with Dylan, that I thought that Dylan was just too wishy-washy as a character and as a result paled into insignificance alongside Roan. I was pleased to see that this book began to build a little on Dylan as a character. We see some things in his character which showed me a little of why he is good for Roan and that made me a little happier about their relationship. Dylan still comes across as a bit of a mother hen, who spends much time worrying about Roan, but that is tempered by some touching scenes between them. Another reason why their relationship is beginning to feel more solid is that the spectre of Paris is starting to diminish a little. He’s still there in Roan’s heart, and always will be, but I felt that he wasn’t casting as much of a shadow over Roan as he has in the previous two books. I liked this development, although maybe fans of Paris might not be so happy.
Another reason why I enjoyed this book so much was because of the introduction of the ice hockey team. One of the team, Grey, initially employs Roan to look into the death of his friend’s sister, but gradually over the course of the book Roan is introduced to the rest of the hockey team, especially Scott, the team captain, and Tank, the nutcase goalie. These guys provided a breath of fresh air to the series mainly because they provide a completely different type of friendship for Roan. All of Roan’s other friends, with perhaps the exception of Holden, seem to be there so that they can nag at poor Roan and point out how much of a reckless idiot he is. The hockey team, however, like Roan’s recklessness, and even encourage it! So instead of cautioning Roan not to get involved in fights, they jump straight in and fight alongside him. It was all great fun and brought some much needed lightness to the series as a whole, even if it was in the form of a rather black comedy. the book came alive when Roan was with the hockey players and I hope they are going to be a regular feature in the rest of the series.
The more serious side comes from Roan’s adapting body, as he struggles to keep control of the lion inside him. As with the rest of the series, these parts were totally gripping and sometimes very violent. Those who are a little squeamish may not enjoy these parts too much but I loved the visceral action and the almost dispassionate way that Roan describes the changes happening to his body. The story builds on this until a final scene which was very gory and which gave us more insight into Holden as a character.
Overall, this book shows an author coming into her own as the series really picks up the pace. I feel like I’ve missed an awful lot out of this review because I hadn’t had the space to talk about the wonderful development in all the secondary characters, or the way that Roan is deepening his association with Holden or the changes in Roan’s virus, but those who love this series will be able to find that out all for themselves. If you’re an UF fan and you haven’t started this series yet, then you really need to get going because this is turning out to be one of my favourite UF series and shouldn’t be missed.