Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.
The Sycamore forest is known for strangeness. Anyone who has spent quality time in the area knows this. Diego de la Torre, former CDC hunter of werewolves, gets pulled into a new mystery when he stops on the highway to help a panicked mother (Julia) find her lost daughter Hazel. While it’s not technically Detective Maxim Dwyer’s area, his friend Diego calls him in anyway. Unexpectedly, another girl (Annabelle) is found, one who had been lost for three days. Now, authorities and Diego are all concerned there is something more going on in the Sycamore woods.
I’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series (The Seventh Sons & The Blood of Brothers) and this installment to the series is pretty darn good. While the first two books dealt with the local werewolves, there’s barely a mention of them in this book. But don’t worry! This book has the unknown, the noir detective feel, and very interesting characters. Maxim and Diego continue to be my two favorite characters in the series and both feature heavily in this book.
So let me get my one criticism out of the way so I can get back to telling you how much I enjoyed this book. The lady characters are sparse and lacking in depth. Julia is a beautiful woman, a possible love interest, and a mother who can do little more than cry over her lost daughter. We also meet Annabelle’s mom, who has more personality, but again is mostly just a sex object and a ball of anger. While Annabelle has a little more going on than Hazel, they are both one-dimensional characters. Kaeda Burnett, a Yavapai woman from Book 2, makes a brief appearance and gives some sage advice. I know the author can write great female characters because he’s done it in other books. Too bad this book didn’t have any. All the plot decisions are made by male characters and the guys get to have all the fun and outdoor activities.
OK, so setting that aside, we’ve got this great mystery. Annabelle can’t recall much of her time spent in the woods. It’s all fuzzy and dream like. Or so she says. She’s pretty despondent, not answering questions, and being withdrawn. Maxim suspects she knows more but isn’t sure how to reach her. Then there is her mother that just wants her to snap out of it and get back to school and her normal life. As they dig into Annabelle’s whereabouts prior to her going missing, a drifter who has frequented Sycamore Moon for many years pops up on their radar.
And then things get strange. In previous books, we knew up front that we were dealing with werewolves. Here, the supernatural quality is slow to come and then it took me some time to figure out what we were dealing with. That was part of the mystery and it was a slow delicious burn.
Diego is still trying to figure out where he fits in the world. He loves the area but he’s not an outlaw biker like the Seventh Sons motorcycle club he once belonged to. Nor is he law enforcement, as he once was working for the CDC. Yet he’s not good at driving trucks on a schedule working for a boss either. I really enjoyed watching him figure all this out and I have a guess as to where his path will lead him.
Maxim is another mystery, to some extent. He lost his wife and has difficulty trusting people in general. Living and working in the Sycamore Moon area hasn’t helped that as nearly everyone he encounters has a secret. Still, it takes a person with a flexible mind to accept the things he has come across, and he needs all that quick thinking to unravel this mystery!
Despite the lack of female characters with depth, I was thoroughly caught up in this tale. I had trouble putting it down so I could get a bit of sleep, and I finished it in 2 days. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series!
I received this book free of charge (via Audiobook Blast) in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Jason Jewett did yet another fine job. His Spanish accent for Diego de la Torre is spot on. Now I’m not trying to make Jewett blush, but his voice for Diego with that Spanish accent is quite something! Very sexy. His female voices and little kid voices are believable. All his characters are distinct. I love his somewhat gravelly voice for Maxim.