Tor Romance, $6.99, ISBN 0-765-34913-2
CT Adams and Cathy Clamp have come up with a fabulous dark fantasy world with Hunter’s Moon, a world best described as a noirish place populated by shapeshifters and humans. Readers concerned with the morals of the characters – what are you doing here? The hero is a hitman, an unapologetic one at that. Yes, I believe that it’s for the best you go back to books by Sherrilyn Kenyon if that kind of thing will bother you. There is a big but to this story with a fabulous hero and fascinating canon though: the heroine. I have never been simultaneously embarrassed by and disgusted with such a weak, insipid, idiotic woman in a long, long time.
Anthony Giodone is a hitman. He is also a werewolf. If that’s not enough, he is also the narrator of this story, which makes this book even more cool in my opinion. He is an antihero in every way: he makes no apologies for being who or what he is, but he takes care of the ones he loves. I’m a sucker for well-written bad boys like Tony so I’m a goner from page one. He doesn’t whine, he doesn’t mope, and he has a dark, almost Fox Mulder-like wit without going overboard with the self depreciation. His story begins when he is approached by Sue Quentin, who wants him to kill her when she’s not looking. Sue is tired of being a doormat all her life and she feels that the only way she can get her psychotic family members to stop taking her for granted (especially since she struck jackpot at the lottery) is to be killed. But it becomes apparent that Sue doesn’t need a hitman as much as she needs a shrink. Tony falls for her – hey, he’s never claims to be perfect – and they are plunged into a dangerous adventure when the enemies from Tony’s past catch up with him.
The best part of this book is Tony, the mysterious Bobby, and the assortment of fiendish sociopathic denizens that lurk in these author’s underdark world. I love them all. They are fascinating, colorful, and many of them come with all sorts of delightfully perverse traits. I adore the thirteen-year old kid who started killing people when he was six – which isn’t there more of Scotty? Tony is larger-than-life compelling and the story, which can get convoluted at times, is dark, violent, and macabre at times enough to thrill that part of me who always believe that there should be more noir romances like the one I am reading now.
However, Sue is a complete embarrassment. At first I don’t mind her enabler personality because the authors make it clear from the start that Sue is a train wreck. Unfortunately, they never do anything with Sue. There is hardly any progression or improvement in her character. I cringe when she has to pitifully beg Tony not to leave her every time he takes more than ten steps away from her. I grit my teeth until my jaw aches whenever she keeps making herself a victim in this story. I groan painfully when after all the crap her family put her through, she is shocked at the end when she realizes that they don’t love her. I flinch at every stupid question she asks Tony because Sue seems incapable of even taking a few steps on her own without begging Tony to help her. After a while, I start hearing her voice in my head and it’s the voice of a high-pitched five year old girl that won’t stop until I start to fear that I will wake up screaming every night because I keep hearing that voice. And I really want to kill Sue myself when I realize that she has only two purposes in this story: as a victim and as a target.
At the end of the day, I want to give this book a high grade because of Tony and the creep brigade but I keep remembering that I want so badly to see Sue falling headfirst into a wood chipper. No, that’s not me pushing her into it. I want to give this book a low grade as a way to exorcise the dreadful Sue from my memories but I don’t think Tony and his buddies deserve that grade. All I can say is that I hope in the sequel Sue either keeps a very low profile or she spends most of her scenes sedated from tranquilizers. Or she undergoes an uncharacteristic metamorphosis into a tough woman. I don’t care what. Just keep this dreadful Sue Quentin away from me. Look at me. I’m literally trembling in terror at the thought of encountering once more this fictional character!