Title: Infected: Lesser Evils
Author: Andrea Speed
Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Infected: Lesser Evils
Genre: M/M urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Length: 376 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Summary Review: Book six in the Infected series is still a great read, but showing signs of self indulgent hero-worship.
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.
Until recently, Roan was ahead of the curve when it came to reining in the lion that lives inside him. Now his control is slipping at the worst possible times. A new drug has hit the streets—one that triggers unscheduled changes in infected users. Street hustler Holden Krause gets attacked by one of his clients, then is surprised to find himself involved in an unwanted, unexpected relationship. And a serial killer begins targeting infecteds in their cat form—something that’s 100 percent legal.
To stop the murders, Roan has to work outside the law. But his newfound thirst for violence makes him worry he might be more like the killer than he thought, and his reluctance to talk about it with his husband, Dylan, puts an extra strain on their relationship. So Roan isn’t just fighting the killer and struggling with his mutating virus… he’s trying to save himself.
I really loved the previous book in this series, so I was looking forward to reading this one. The story follows on pretty directly from the last book. Roan’s lion is slowly taking over his body and he can now induce a partial change at will, even struggling on occasion to hold back the lion. Roan is becoming increasingly concerned at his superhuman abilities and these worries are starting to consume him. Added to this is the pressure of being such a visible ‘infected’ and that there’s a new drug in town which seems to force an infected to change, sending them mad in the process.
The story begins well with a strong and eventful series of action scenes involving Roan trying to pacify cats who have turned almost rabid, thanks to the new drugs. This strand of the book was quite harrowing and bloody as Roan struggles against what he considers his own people. The mystery of who is supplying the drugs takes us up to the middle of the book, but then seems to be dropped. On one hand, I could appreciate that Roan had come to a sort of dead end with it, but it seems out of character for him to give up on it so easily.
The second half of the book follows two mystery strands as Roan looks into the case of a possible missing father and the gruesome discovery that someone is killing infected people during their cat stage and skinning them. The missing person was barely handled by Roan, passed mostly onto Holden and the cat murderer was solved fairly easily – and a little too conveniently. Whilst all the mystery strands were interesting in the book, I was ultimately a little disappointed in this area as it tended to follow a similar pattern of Roan showing up and intimidating as many people as possible, partially changing, and then suffering both physically and mentally afterwards. After a while, I began to wish that Roan could use his brain more, especially since nearly all the characters go on at great lengths about how intelligent Roan seems to be.
This leads me onto perhaps my biggest niggle about the book. This series has always really been very focused on Roan as a character, but I found that this book had taken Roan’s narcissism to an even higher level. Roan is constantly worried about himself, or how he affects other characters. The other characters in the book are always thinking about Roan, it’s like they hardly exist without Roan’s presence. An example of this is about half way through the book when Roan is injured and in hospital. There’s this lengthy scene involving all the major secondary characters, including Dylan and Holden, who are waiting in the hospital for news of how Roan is. The narrative dips into several of their heads and they are all, without fail, thinking of Roan and how he relates to them. It was so self-indulgent as a scene that I seriously considered skipping it. As the book progressed this theme carried on, with poor Dylan being once again a mere shadow of Roan, used whenever Roan needed reassurance. Roan keeps so many secrets from Dylan because he doesn’t want Dylan to worry about him that I wondered how their relationship could possibly survive. In fact, Dylan seems weaker than ever as he clings to Roan and barely seems to exist away from Roan. We are told that Dylan has friends, but we never see these people, or if we do they are dismissed as ‘pretentious’ and therefore not worth Roan’s attention. Poor Dylan. I wish he would dump Roan and go find someone who deserves him.
Having said that, the book wasn’t all bad. I was pleased that the hockey players featured once again and in particular I enjoyed the weird thing that is happening between Scott and Holden. I really liked the way that Roan is becoming (almost against his will) a spokesperson for infected people, and all the politics surrounding that and various new legislation to do with those who are infected. The action sequences are tightly written and visceral. Plus, you know, I really do like Roan – even if I did think he was particularly self-centred during this book. Finally, I liked the fact that the story ends on a bit of a shocking cliff hanger – although I’m quite prepared for the fact that this may have bugged the hell out of some readers! To me it spoke of a new stage for Roan and I’m very much looking forward to reading about that in the next book.
Overall, as you can see I had a mixed response to this sixth book of the series, but on the whole it was well written and still a great, if more sombre, read. Perhaps other readers may not be as annoyed at such an indulgent Roan-centred book as I was and I would recommend it to those who have been following the series so far. If you haven’t read any of the Infected books yet, then this isn’t the place to start. Instead I recommend you start either at book 1 Infected: Prey or book 3 Infected: Life After Death.