- Books Book Review: Duncan Andrews Thrillers Vol. 1, by Stephen Osborne
Book Review: Duncan Andrews Thrillers Vol. 1, by Stephen Osborne
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EW Elaine White
Duncan Andrews Thrillers
About the Author
I live in Northern Illinois with Christine, a border terrier mix with a diva complex. I love Broadway musicals, board games, Doctor Who, and Dark Shadows.
December 02, 2016
epub, mobi, pdf
Private detective Duncan Andrews’s best friend Gina is a witch. His dog is a zombie. And his dead boyfriend, Robbie, is a ghost. So it’s hardly any wonder that he uses his connection to the supernatural to help him solve cases. In Pale as a Ghost, Duncan’s on the trail of a serial killer who may not be human, while also trying to move on in his dating life. In Animal Instinct, someone is using the skull of a powerful wizard—Gina’s father—to control animals and attack young Ashton Marsh. In The Scarlet Tide, Duncan’s latest case leads him to Chicago and a band whose members are all vampires. And in Dead End, Robbie’s cousin Jason has moved into a house that’s haunted by a serial killer, and Gina’s on the run from witch-hunters. Through it all, Duncan must solve the case and balance a complicated personal life.
Cover – Really nice!
POV – 1st person, 1 character, with occasional other POV
Would I read it again – Yes!
Genre – LGBT, Romance, Supernatural, Crime, Thriller
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
I've been eager to read a Stephen Osborne book for some time, but never seemed to get the time. When this bundle popped up, I was really excited. This last year, crime thrillers haven't gone well for me, but this one was a real surprise and a great boost to remind me why this is the genre I love so much.
Book 1: Pale As A Ghost
As a story written in 1st person, I was sceptical. Me and 1st person don't get alone. But this one didn't even make me blink. It's how the story is meant to be told. 1st person, past tense and so well written that there was no possibility of the story making sense or being half as effective if written in any other way. The addition of the murderer's POV was a nice twist, even when it was small and at the end of each of the relevant chapters.
Not only was the writing fantastic, in a way that I'm now sure I will love anything else Stephen Osborne puts out there. Once I'm done, I'll gobble up the rest of them without hesitation. But, on top of that, the characterisation was perfect, without those stereotypical information dumps that I hate. Instead, Osborne managed to supply the relevant information – whether background, history or information that we needed to understand the story – in individual chapters that were contained, insightful but never too much and always at appropriate times.
I absolutely loved the drama, the danger, the romance and the realism of a crime story with a paranormal element. For the world building that Osborne wrapped everything up in, so well explained and explored, nothing felt far fetched or out of place. Everything that happened was within a reasonable expectation for the world and the characters.
Speaking of which, I loved nearly all of them! Duncan and Robbie were my favourite, naturally, with Gina following a close second. I liked Nick, but I wasn't sure about his place within the story or how his 'relationship' with the characters would progress. It was a matter of it being too good to be true and being unsure of what might happen next.
Even the cases – of which I loved that there was more than one – all revolved perfectly within Duncan's capabilities and the plot. They intersected at appropriate points while still managing to maintain their individual stories and being believable resolved.
“If Sam was some sort of arsonist spirit, at least he picked a night when Robbie and I were at the movies. Got to give him credit for that.”
Book 2: Animal Instinct
Again, the world building held up to the strength of the characters and the plot. With the addition of new characters, including Vallis, who was an intriguing complication. I liked that, although he was a psychic/medium, he wasn't a fraud that was completely useless to the story. The way he behaved and reacted to the various situations made him a side character worth keeping an eye on.
I really loved getting Robbie's POV in this story. The reason for it was important and it was a really great addition to the plot; Gina and Robbie really were the driving force of this story, though Duncan was the one who did all the dirty work for them. The combination of that made the story perfectly paced.
If possible, this book was even better than the first. I cried, I laughed, I was scared for the main character and I left this with an absolute emotional overload.
“I wanted to get started right away and do a Hercule Poirot, gathering all the suspects in the drawing room and questioning them until one of them slipped up. “Aha! But I never said the coffee had sugar in it! The little gray cells, they surpass themselves! That means the person who stole the skull is none other than Sir Templeton Bassington-Phipps!”
Book 3: The Scarlet Tide
Wow. Every story in this series just gets better and better.
I loved the Prologue with Colton's POV, showing us the case that was going to be Duncan's focus for this story. It was a great addition, letting us see how it all began firsthand. I didn't even mind about the 3rd person interlude, since I was starting to get used to it and understood the necessity. I liked that it not only made sound sense in the terms of explaining things Duncan' couldn't know but which would be helpful to us and fun to read, but it also provided a brief step back from Duncan's life and from the possibility of these books reading like a formatted system, like some other series develop. Each book in this series is completely individual, in every way.
What came across to me more in this story than the previous two was just how great of a main character Duncan really is. I mean, he's in no way perfect. His boyfriend, his complicated love life, his weird pet and his witchy best friend show that well enough, but in this story we really get to see just how delicate he can be, physically.
Though Duncan is your strong main lead, emotionally messed up but dealing with it pretty well and with that tough guy persona that fits with his career, he's in no way untouchable, infallible or perfect. He gets hurt, he makes mistakes and sometimes those mistakes have tragic or even just disappointing consequences. It only makes him a great flawed, but realistic, hero.
At the same time, the cases are never the same. Though vampires have popped up in the previous stories, they're not all the same or generic; they vary in personality, in ability and type. Each case has its own individual feel to it, its own risks, challenges and needs. And each one pushes Duncan in an unexpected but different way.
For me, this one had a really satisfying ending. They all do, but this one just felt like that Aaaah moment, when you sink into a really comfy chair, you don't have to move and everything you could ever need is within reach. Perfect.
“I'm all for young love, unless it involves someone named Edward and a girl named Bella. Then they should be flogged.”
Book 4: Dead End
Ah, the final case.
Right now, I'm a bit of an emotional wreck as I've written each book's review after reading it and I've literally only just finished this one. At the moment, I'm feeling a little speechless, so I'll try my best to explain why.
First off, another great introduction to the case, with a 3rd person dual POV in Chapter 1, from Jason and Anthony, our clients for this case. They're quirky, fun and lend a slightly more emotional feel to the case that Duncan works in this story, because of who they are and what their challenge is. Even little Gary, Anthony's son, is a great side characters, though it's really Jason who is the believer and the main one of the three who drives the plot forward.
Duncan's part in all of this is, as always, the brains of the operation, the brawn and even the stubborn stupidity that gets him so routinely in so much touble.
I loved the added challenge of the Order of Cotton Mather – which I'm not going to explain to anyone who hasn't read it. Just let me say that it's a genius way to make more of a character that I hadn't expected to need more from. And, because I can't tell you what it's about or what happens without spoiling everything, I'm going to end with this:
O.M.G. I thought I was going to have a heart attack with that ending. But it was...perfect...right...beautiful...so many things that brought me to tears and back to smiling again.
“If I was her, I'd be cursing his ass. Couple of boils on his butt. Warts on his nose. Penis falling off. That sort of thing.”
Overall, this series is a masterclass of how to write a good paranormal crime novel, with a dash of romance and make the reader an emotional wreck. With humour, love and just enough snarky sarcasm, there was plenty of emotions to explore and for us readers to feel. I was immersed in Duncan's world from page one.
I can honestly say that I'm addicted. I've just bought (this second) book 5 in the series and I'll be starting it tomorrow. I can't wait!
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