Friday, February 14, 2014

BITTEN (Lauren Westlake Mysteries) by Dan O'Brien **REVIEW**

(I downloaded this for free.)

A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.

This was an interesting and fresh horror/mystery hybrid.  The setting is a small town in Minnestoa during the deep dark cold of mid-winter, and the result is a creepy and almost claustrophobic atmosphere, perfect for reading in a warm bed on a winter's night.  Lauren Westlake arrives in a great, poignant opening scene that establishes her as a tough federal agent.  This persona is soon at odds with her behavior in the local bar, where the alcohol loosens her tongue, her professionalism, and her grip on her dignity.   I think the intent was to show the two sides of Lauren but it's a little heavy-handed here and throughout the book.
But the story itself kept me reading and was really entertaining.  The violent murders that seem to have been committed by a monster, the overwhelmed local police department, a mysterious stranger in town, and Lauren's reason for arriving in Locke are all part of a well-developed, intriguing twist on the werewolf legend.  The thin line between human and monster is explored a bit against the backdrop of murder, mystery and horror.  There's even a visit from Hecate to add a little fun to the mix.
My only real complaint is the very formal language, sometimes awkward phrasing, and the lack of contractions.  As a result the dialogue feels stilted and slow - mentally I kept adding the contractions as I read to keep the pace moving along at a more natural speed.
Overall, a very enjoyable and atmospheric read.

Author Website

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