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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

'In the Blood' by Adrian Phoenix

'In the Blood' by Adrian PHOENIX

This is the second book in Phoenix's 'Maker's Song' series. Only a few weeks have passed since the events in 'A Rush of Wings' - Dante Baptiste, lead singer to the band 'Inferno', Nightkind (vampire), troubled heartthrob and experiment 'S' is touring with his band. FBI agent Heather Wallace has returned home to Seattle to take care of her younger sister, Annie, who suffers from bipolar - the same illness that haunted their mother before she was tragically murdered by a serial killer. Wallace is on leave from the bureau, claiming to still be recovering from a miraculously healed bullet-wound, and in her downtime she is investigating her mother's cold case. But the FBI have plans for Wallace, mainly to keep her under heavy surveillance and undertake experiments to determine the source of her miracle recovery courtesy of Dante.
Dante, though he promised to stay away from her, is heading to Seattle for the final leg of his band's tour, with every intention of keeping Heather safe...

To be honest, I wasn't blown away by 'A Rush of Wings' - but I really loved the Dante/Heather connection that Adrian Phoenix wrote, and I was frustrated and curious enough about Phoenix's cliff-hanger to their relationship to come back for more in 'In the Blood'.

Unfortunately, I had the same problem with the 2nd book that I had with the 1st. Phoenix writes from too many perspectives - as well as Dante, Heather and Annie, Phoenix includes narratives from Dante's father Lucien, accompanying agent Alex Lyons, Dante's roadie Von, hit-woman Caterina aka 'Cortini', some other supernatural 'huh?' Lillith.... the list goes on and on and at the end of the day the multiple narratives just amount to sloppy writing.

The only narratives you care about as a reader are those of Dante and Heather. They are the heart of the story, everything else is just excess baggage and I found myself skipping through most of the alternative narrative chapters.
It is sloppy writing if the perspective of every bad-guy and red-herring is included in the novel. We do not need to hear Alex Lyons internal monologue as he deduces Dante and Heather's sexual entanglement and decides to use that against them somehow. It's called 'show, don't tell' and not only is it sloppy writing to include the inner-voice of every Tom, Dick and Harry in your book, it is insulting to the reader. To assume that we won't 'get' the plot unless we are given the privilege of reading everyone's inner musings - give your reader a little more credit, please.

And it is a shame. Because when Adrian Phoenix gets it right, her writing is beautiful. All of the Heather/Dante interactions are this book's one saving grace. These two are an enigma, to each other and to the reader. Dante is a wounded soul; abused as a child, but sweetly affectionate as an adult, dealing out kisses as easily as other people exchange hand-shakes. His conflicting feelings toward Heather are at once endearing and frustrating - he loves her, but can't articulate such an emotion when he feels that loving her puts her in danger.
Heather is a tough, pragmatic FBI agent who has had to grow up quickly - her mother died when she was a teenager, her father buried himself in his FBI work and she has always had to care for her ill sister. Heather is ballsy and intelligent - but around Dante she becomes a lioness - wanting to protect and shield him, even from himself, but also wanting to exact revenge on those who have wounded him. I will only be reading Phoenix's 3rd installment 'Beneath the Skin' (released December 29th this year) to find out what happens with Dante and Heather.

I would give 'In the Blood' 1.5/5

Adrian Phoenix has really got to cut her book back to 2 narratives - Heather and Dante's. She could possibly include the narrative of ONE villain (like JR Ward does in her 'Blackdagger Brotherhood' series) but anything else is excessive, boring, confusing and unnecessary - all those multiple narratives achieve is taking the reader away from the real story-telling of Heather Wallace and Dante Baptiste.

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