Generation 18 (Spook Squad Series #2)

Generation 18 (Spook Squad Series #2)

4.4 13
by Keri Arthur
     
 

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COUNTDOWN TO CRISIS
 
A serial killer strikes every twelve hours. A vampire takes lives at random. At first glance, these tragic incidents seem unrelated. But Special Investigations Unit agents Sam Ryan and Gabriel Stern trace them both back to a military base known as Hopeworth. Is the murder spree part of a cover-up? And are the vampire

Overview

COUNTDOWN TO CRISIS
 
A serial killer strikes every twelve hours. A vampire takes lives at random. At first glance, these tragic incidents seem unrelated. But Special Investigations Unit agents Sam Ryan and Gabriel Stern trace them both back to a military base known as Hopeworth. Is the murder spree part of a cover-up? And are the vampire killings less by chance and more methodical?
 
The investigation takes an eerie, personal turn when Sam discovers a connection between herself and the victims—and a clue to her own mysterious origins. With the violence escalating and the danger drawing closer to home, the stakes are raised and the mission changes from seeking justice to ensuring Sam and Gabriel’s own survival. And the one person who seems to hold all the answers—about Hopeworth, about Sam’s past—is a mystery man she isn’t sure she can trust. They share a psychic link through her dreams, and he once saved her life, but he may just be the greatest enemy humankind has ever known.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440246596
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/30/2014
Series:
Spook Squad Series , #2
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
242,656
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

Being a spook wasn’t at all what Samantha Ryan had expected. Long nights, sleepless days, yes—she’d faced that, and worse, during her ten years as a state police officer. In her time with State, the agents of the Special Investigations Unit had breezed in and out of situations, always on edge, always on the move, always looking like they loved what they were doing. So the sheer and utter boredom that filled ninety percent of her new job with the SIU had come as something of a shock.

She sighed and shifted slightly, trying to find a comfortable position on the icy metal step. Watch the back door, Gabriel had said. Make sure the vamps don’t hit the blood bank from the alley. This despite the fact that, in the five previous robberies, the vampires had always gone in through the front door.

So why the hell would they change a successful MO now?

They wouldn’t. He knew that. She knew that.

She rubbed her eyes wearily. She could hardly argue, though, as he was her senior and in charge of the investigation. And with intel stating that this blood bank would be the next one hit, she couldn’t argue with orders that were little more than covering all the bases.

What the intel wasn’t saying was whether it was actually vampires doing these robberies. Hell, with recent estimates saying that at least thirty percent of newly turned vampires were unable to control their bloodlust, human blood had become a hot commodity. Combine that with the recent spate of deaths brought about through infected blood in all the major hospitals—leading to a proliferation of private blood banks where people could stockpile their own blood—and you had the perfect opportunity for those wanting to make a quick buck.

So here she sat, in the cold night, on a cold step, waiting for robbers who weren’t likely to appear, while her goddamn partner watched the front door from the warmth of the car.

Bitter? Oh yeah.

He was certainly making good on his statement that he would never work with a partner. Whenever possible, he left her in her box of an office doing paperwork, or sent her on inane errands. This was her first “real” duty in the three months since her transfer, and she suspected she was here only because Byrne had given him a direct order to take her.

The wind picked up, running chilly fingers through her hair. She shivered and flicked up the collar on her coat. Overhead, the starlit sky was beginning to cloud over. The rain they’d been predicting for days was finally on the way. She could smell the moisture in the breeze, could feel the tingle of electricity running through the night air, charging her body with an odd sense of power.

Why she could feel these things was another point of concern, though it was one she kept to herself. There were only two people she trusted enough to sit down and talk to, anyway. The first was Finley, who was the head researcher for the SIU. While she didn’t really know him all that well—the only time they’d ever crossed paths was when he was doing either tests or research on her—he probably knew more about her than anyone else alive. Or, at least, knew more about her biology. If anyone had any chance of understanding why these things were happening, it would be him. But Finley was still on leave, recovering from the injuries he’d received in the bomb blast three months ago. The second person was her goddamn partner, and he was harder to nail down than a snowflake in a storm.

And he wasn’t just keeping his distance on a professional level, but on a personal one as well. Given how well they’d gotten on during their investigations of her former partner’s disappearance, she’d thought they could at least be friends. Obviously, she’d been very much mistaken.

God, how bad was it when he wouldn’t even go for a cup of coffee with her?

“Sam, you there?”

His warm voice whispered into her ear, so close she could almost feel the caress of his breath across her cheek. Except that he was tucked nice and warm in the car half a block away.

She was tempted, very tempted, to ignore him. But she’d spent ten long years as a cop doing the right thing, following all the rules—including keeping in constant contact when on watch. Even when her partner was being a bastard and deserved to suffer, it was a hard habit to break.

“What?” But her tone left no doubt of her mood. He’d left her sitting here so long her butt was almost frozen to the step. If he expected civility, he needed a brain transplant.

“Just checking if you’re still awake.”

Yeah, right. Like she was the one sitting in the nice, warm car. “The cold’s doing a fine job of that, thank you very much.”

He paused. “Do you want to swap for a while?”

She raised her eyebrows. Just for an instant, the compassion in his voice reminded her of the man she’d known before she’d become his partner. “You got coffee onboard?”

“Freshly brewed.”

And he hadn’t offered her any until now? It was lucky he’d equipped the two of them with only stun rifles, because she was very tempted to march right over and shoot him. “Sure you can spare a cup?” she said tightly. “I mean, you oldsters need some sort of stimulant to keep you awake at this hour of the night, don’t you?”

“Do I take that as a yes or a no?” His warm voice held an undertone of annoyance.

But she was way past caring at this particular moment. “That depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether you intend to freeze me out, figuratively or literally.”

He made no immediate reply and she waited, wondering what he’d do now that she’d finally called him out. Down toward the Main Street end of the alley, she heard a soft thump, as if someone had jumped off a rooftop, and a dog yelped somewhere to the left of that—a short, sharp sound that spoke of fear. She frowned and stared into the darkness. The electricity filling the night stirred, running over her skin, standing the small hairs at the back of her neck on end. Heat followed quickly. Then her senses exploded outward, and she was tasting the night.

A kite creature walked toward her.

“Sam—”

She jumped and quickly pressed the earphone, cutting him off. He’d once told her the kites hunted by sound and movement. She wasn’t about to chance the creature hearing his voice, no matter how unlikely that might be.

The kite came into view. It almost looked like a large white sheet, except that it had feet and talon-like hands. The creature hesitated as it neared the steps, sniffing the night like a dog. It turned milky-white eyes in her direction. She controlled the urge to reach for the stun rifle and remained still.

After a moment, it lumbered past, moving to the other end of the alley. Avoiding the yellow wash of the streetlight, it slunk around the corner and disappeared. She rose and picked up her rifle before switching the earpiece back on.

“A kite just made an appearance in the alley. I’m about to follow.”

“Negative. You’re not equipped—”

Sam snorted softly. “Neither are you, partner. You continue to keep watch on the blood bank, and I’ll see what the creature is up to.”

“Stun guns won’t—”

“Gabriel, remember imperative one?” The SIU had become aware of the kites only five months ago, but since then, the creatures had reached the top of the SIU’s extermination list. With an edge in her voice that imitated his own, she continued, “Find and stop all kites, regardless of the cost.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to do a suicide run when you’re not properly equipped to deal with them.”

“Please credit me with a little bit of sense. I’m merely going to see what the thing is up to.” She stopped at the end of the alley and carefully peered around the corner. The kite lumbered across the road.

“I’m calling for backup,” he said, his voice terse.

The kite disappeared around the corner of the opposite street. She ran across the road and then edged forward, keeping to the shadows of the three-story apartment building.

“Fine.” It only made sense. “I’ll keep in contact.”

“You’d better,” he growled.

She grinned. She might well pay for it later, but damn, it felt good to annoy him.

She reached the corner, but the kite was nowhere to be seen. Wondering how the creature could have moved so fast, she frowned and glanced up—and found it. The loose skin around its arms flapped lightly as it climbed crablike up the wall.

The wind tugged at her hair, throwing it across her eyes. She brushed it back and listened to the sounds beneath the soft cry of the wind. Two men were talking, their voices harsh and grating. A radio near the top of the building played classic rock. Between the two came the squeak of a bed and a whispered good night. These were all sounds she wouldn’t normally have heard but now did thanks to the odd sense of power flowing through the night.

The creature seemed to be headed for the apartment in which the radio played. She watched it for as long as she dared. When it stopped and pressed a taloned hand against a window, she turned and ran for the building’s front door.

“Gabriel, the kite’s about to break into a top-floor apartment on the corner of Gibb and Macelan streets.”

“Help’s on the way. Stay where you are.”

The words had barely whispered into her ear when she heard the sound of glass shattering. A heartbeat later the screaming began. Sickening visions swam through her mind—bloodied images of the street bum she’d found three months ago, his body a mass of raw, weeping muscle stripped of skin.

She swallowed heavily and pounded up the stairs. “Negative. It’s attacking. I’m in pursuit.”

“Damn it, you’re not equipped to deal—”

“Just get backup here quickly.” She pressed the earphone, cutting him off again. She didn’t need to hear what she could and couldn’t do. Not when a man’s life was at stake.

Two flights . . . three. She leapt over the banister and up the remaining stairs. People milled in their doorways, their eyes wide and fearful. Not one of them appeared willing to investigate what was happening to their neighbor. City living, she thought, sucked. But then, would neighbors in suburban areas be any more willing to risk investigating screams as horrifying as the ones currently shattering the silence? She suspected not.

She slithered to a stop outside the apartment door and glanced back at the pajama-clad crowd. “SIU, folks. Go back inside and lock your doors.”

The crowd melted away. With her laser held at the ready, she stepped back and kicked the door. Wood shuddered, splintering. She booted it a second time and the door flung open, crashing back on its hinges.

The kite was in the middle of the living room, its sheetlike form covering all but the stranger’s slippers. His screams suddenly choked off, and all she heard was an odd sucking noise. Blood seeped past the flaccid, winglike sections of the creature’s arms, forming pools that seemed to glisten black in the darkness.

She raised the stun rifle and fired at the creature. The blue-white energy bit through the darkness, flaring against the kite’s leather-like skin. If it had any effect, she couldn’t see it.

She switched her aim to the creature’s oddly shaped head and fired again. The kite snarled and looked up. It had no mouth, she saw suddenly. It was sucking the stranger’s flesh and blood in through pores on its skin.

She shuddered and fired again, this time at its eyes. The creature snarled again, the sound high-pitched and almost batlike. Then it shook its head and jerked upright. Bloodied strips of half-consumed flesh slid down its body and puddled at its feet. Her stomach churned, but she held her ground and kept on firing at the creature’s eyes. It obviously wasn’t stunning the kite, but it was doing something, because the kite’s movements were becoming increasingly agitated.

It screamed again, then turned and stumbled toward the window. She edged into the apartment. The kite smacked into the wall, then flung out an arm, feeling for the window frame. It was almost as if it had lost all sonar capabilities. So maybe the weapon had addled its keen senses.

It grasped the window frame, felt for the other side to position itself, then dived through the shattered glass. Sam ran over to the window and leaned out. The kite was floating back to the street, its arms out wide, loose skin stretched taut to catch the light breeze. She pressed the earphone again.

“Gabriel, the kite is now on Macelan Street, heading west.”

“Do not go after it. I repeat, do not go after it. Stay in the apartment.”

Her smile was grim. If the tone of his voice was anything to go by, he was madder than hell. He had a right to be, she supposed, but what else could she have done? Let the kite devour the stranger?

Not that her intervention had saved him. She turned away from the window and dug out the marble-sized crime-scene monitor—the latest gadget from the SIU labs. She hit the activate button, then tossed the CSM into the air. It hovered for several seconds, then the light flickered from red to green, indicating it was now recording. She ordered it to do a sweep of the premises for record purposes. The monitor obeyed, panning around the room, taking in the doorway she’d kicked open, the window and the body. Then it returned, hovering several feet away from her.

“The kite smashed through the living room window and attacked the victim at three fifteen a.m. I—SIU Officer Ryan—intervened and drove the kite back through the window.” She showed the monitor her badge, then walked across the room to squat beside the body. “The victim is male, probably mid-sixties.”

The CSM dropped closer to the body, capturing the bloody details of the murder. What remained of the victim’s flesh hung in strips, almost indistinguishable from the remnants of his red-and-white-striped pajamas. His eyes were wide, his mouth locked into a scream—a look of astonished horror that was now permanently etched into his features.

Why this man? Why not the two men talking in the apartment below, or the woman who’d just joined her partner in bed? She glanced up and studied the room.

The kite had come straight to this apartment, so it had obviously wanted this man specifically. What they now had to find out was why.

Meet the Author

Keri Arthur, author of the New York Times bestselling Riley Jenson Guardian series, has written more than two dozen books. She’s received several nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards and recently won RT’s Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.

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Generation 18 (Spook Squad Series #2) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IF UR SMART U WOULD SAY THIS"UR RIGHT!O"
Berls More than 1 year ago
I’m continuing to enjoy this series, but Generation 18 felt a lot more straight detective/crime genre than Memory Zero did. And that puts us into procedural territory, something I’m less fond of. Memory Zero probably was too – but it didn’t feel like it because the big bad was directly targeting Samantha (Sam) and it was about protecting herself, not just doing good detective work. Note: There are minor spoilers for Memory Zero in this review, though nothing major. Now, though, Sam has been assigned as Gabriel Stern’s partner and is helping him with a couple of cases – at least as much as he will let her. As Gabriel told Sam in Memory Zero, he doesn’t do partners anymore – so he’s less than happy that she’s been forced on him. I have mixed feelings about this part of the story line – on one hand, I liked that it helped bring some of the sexual tension between Sam and Gabriel to the fore – giving Generation 18 a lot more of a romantic feel than Memory Zero had, though it was still light. On the other hand, I grew tired of Gabriel’s stubbornness. Sam is a damn good detective and he kept trying to push her to the sidelines. Annoying! Sam’s a lot more than a good detective though – she’s SOMETHING else all together. We started seeing bits of this in Memory Zero and I was really pleased by how much of Generation 18 focused on the mysteries of her past and the questions of what exactly she is. I think it was this mystery – combined with the general paranormal woo woo – that Keri Arthur weaved into the world so well that made me enjoy Generation 18 so much, despite the procedural elements. When you’re dealing with supernatural experimentation, unknown supernatural abilities and classified government woo woo projects, its easy to forget this is straight detective work. Its what made me enjoy the Riley Jenson series so much, and its what’s making Spook Squad a strong series for me. All in all, if you liked Riley Jenson – and for the story more than the sex – I think you’ll enjoy this series. Generation 18 hints at romance down the road, but like a true UF, you’re gonna have to wait for things to reach THE MOMENT. The world building is solid and the mysteries of Sam’s past and what she really is heat up in Generation 18 and I’m really excited to see what will be revealed in Penumbra. I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
LilyElementBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Samantha Ryan returns in book two of the Spook Squad series. Sam is part of the Special Investigations Unit, aka Spook Squad. Her partner, Gabriel  is kind of rude and doesn't want a partner, If it were up to him, she would be transferred or just on desk duty. He tries his hardest to keep her out of the dangerous situations, but she somehow finds her way to them anyway. It kind of aggravated me while reading. I know he'll be a love interest later on in the series, and he has that super over protective vibe. The reason behind it though is noble. His previous two partners were killed in the line of duty, so he doesn't want something to happen to Sam because he cares about her. He just shows it in the wrong way. The big case in Generation 18, is a crazy person that is brutally killing people. Sam has to hunt down the person and solve the case before a lot of people are murdered. Along the way, she discovers some things that shed a bit of light on her childhood. Since it was a complete mystery in book one, I was really happy to see what might come in the next book. I'd strongly suggest this series be read in order, just for the fact that you'll understand the structure of the series better. Otherwise you won't know what the heck kite monsters are, or how the police are different from the SIU. I wasn't insanely impressed with book one of this series, but I think that was a personal issue with not being familiar with this world. Since book two shed a lot more light on what the series will hold, I know book three is going to be a great read. I recommend this series if you like Urban Fantasy with a law enforcing lady struggling to find out more about her past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Second book just as good as the first one. I love how Sams character is progressing as her attitude and powers. Cant wait for Pnembra (I think thats how its spelled).
JoanneWadsworth More than 1 year ago
An enthralling trilogy. Don’t miss book #1 before you jump into this one. Sam Ryan, an agent with the Special Investigations Unit, is trying to uncover a killer in a murder spree which traces back to the Hopeworth military base. While she’s trying to unravel the intricate weave of clues, her partner and shapeshifter, Gabriel Stern, discovers the stakes just got personal when the killer starts chasing a member of his own family. There are vampire killings, psychic links through dreams, and a mystery man Sam wonders if she has a personal connection to even as he appears to be the greatest enemy man has. The first book in this Spook Squad series, Memory Zero, is a must read first. So grab that one before you start in on Generation 18. Of course each book is stand-alone, but like most series, reading them in order is far much more fun. Generation 18 certainly gripped me from the first page with the in-depth storyline and intrigue which abounds. The romance between Sam and Gabriel simmers in the background waiting to explode, and I expect book three will see these two move past their working relationship and into something so much deeper as their psychic connection grows. If you’re an avid reader of urban fantasy romance, then this is the book for you. My thanks goes to the author for a fabulous read.
Sailon More than 1 year ago
Generation 18 is the second book in the Spook Squad series. Recently put on special duty with a hostile partner, Gabriel Stern, Sam Ryan must uncover the mystery behind the serial deaths and the vampire attacks. Gabriel continues to block all Sam's attempts to work as a team, so Sam begins striking out on her own. The closer Sam comes to solve the mystery, the more she uncovers about her missing past. Generation 18 starts out at a lively pace and continues to combine mystery, action and a smidgen of romance to keep the story highly entertaining. Arthur has an absorbing way of slowly unfolding the story but still keeping you in the dark. Locking me in for the long haul, I'm looking forward to Penumbra, when all is finally revealed.
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA More than 1 year ago
I love this series! Special Investigations Unit agents Sam Ryan and Gabriel Stern are back. All is not well with their partnership. Sam is a good cop being held back by Gabriel’s fear of losing another partner. Even so they stumble on connected cases and are beginning to find out some frightening things about Sam’s past. Action, adventure, and mystery, another terrific read from Keri Arthur.
JackieBCentralTexasJB More than 1 year ago
Read from September 26 to 28, 2014 Book Info  Kindle Edition, 368 pages Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Dell (first published September 22nd 2004) original title Generation 18 (Spook Squad, #2) ASIN B00JI58T9C edition languageEnglish series Spook Squad #2 other editions (5) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links  Amazon  B&N  BOOK SYNOPSIS COUNTDOWN TO CRISIS A serial killer strikes every twelve hours. A vampire takes lives at random. At first glance, these tragic incidents seem unrelated. But Special Investigations Unit agents Sam Ryan and Gabriel Stern trace them both back to a military base known as Hopeworth. Is the murder spree part of a cover-up? And are the vampire killings less by chance and more methodical? The investigation takes an eerie, personal turn when Sam discovers a connection between herself and the victims—and a clue to her own mysterious origins. With the violence escalating and the danger drawing closer to home, the stakes are raised and the mission changes from seeking justice to ensuring Sam and Gabriel’s own survival. And the one person who seems to hold all the answers—about Hopeworth, about Sam’s past—is a mystery man she isn’t sure she can trust. They share a psychic link through her dreams, and he once saved her life, but he may just be the greatest enemy humankind has ever known. My Thoughts Thankfully we have some questions answered concerning Sam Ryan’s origin that clears up a few mysteries from the years that are missing in her memories prior to age 14. Sam is starting to exhibit strange abilities more and more, these abilities are truly helpful but at the same time they are unsettling to her. The action and suspense once again take front and center, the mystery surrounding the identity of the serial killer is explored slowly and when the final reveal occurs Gabriel and Sam are both forced to fight for their lives against a foe who has no mercy. The pacing was fast, the villains were truly evil, the secrets and lies from the past that were uncovered were at times both astonishing as well as revolting, the bond that is growing between Gabriel and Sam enhanced the romantic angle without providing readers the satisfaction of seeing the two in a full blown relationship and overall this continued first book , Memory Zero , and set up the last book , Penumbra: The Spook Squad 3 , in the trilogy quite well. The ending felt a bit rushed but other than that enjoyed this second in series. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
SoIReadThisBookToday More than 1 year ago
I spent my birthday with a new series (for me) that I was really enjoying. The Spook Squad by Keri Arthur. The premise and story are fascinating, involving a close-to-us parallel world where nonhumans live alongside normal in an uneasy balance. They are policed by the SIU, a shadowy group set up to police nonhumans. The main character in the book is Sam Ryan, a State Police Officer. As far as Sam is concerned, she is fully human – but is she truly? With no memory of the first 14-years of her life, Sam is an exemplary officer, but she is also a haunted woman, searching for her life before she awakened in a foster home at 14. In Memory Zero we first meet Sam as she is set to meet with her partner, Jack, in a dark and stinking back alley of Melbourne. Jack – who has been missing for over two weeks, supposedly the victim of an unknown cop killer. Called to the alley by the missing Jack, having promised to tell no one, Sam finds much more than she expects as the Jack she meets is no longer human, but instead is a vampire. And something else – something much, much worse. Killing the man who is her partner, and yet not, Sam is pulled into a whirlwind of terror which begins to pull her history from her own mind, opening doors that should have stayed closed. Generation 18 is the second in the series, and continues Sam’s story. Now a member of the SIU, she is partnered with Assistant Director of the SIU, Gabriel, the two are neck deep in the investigation of a serial killer who is targeting a seemingly unrelated group of victims, whose only link is that they are all adopted, and all have red-gold hair. We learn a lot more about Samantha in this volume, and I really came to admire and like her, though not Gabriel, a cold and isolated man, determined to shake Sam off as his partner. He is determined to never have a partner again after the death of his former two partners, one of whom was his mate, Andrea. That loss, when he was 18, has set in his mind that he will never allow anyone close to him again, not even his twin brother. Struggling to catch the killer, the invisible Sethanon, Sam has to fight not only her growing memories, and her jackass of a partner, but also a growing threat against herself and who she may, or may not, be. Penumbra is the third book in the trilogy, and builds up the series to a massive head, as Sam finally realizes who, and what she is. And who Gabriel is supposed to be to her – though he desperately fights it. Tracking a mix of clones, shapeshifters and shapechangers, the murders come fast and furious as the military comes closer and closer to achieving their goals of an unstoppable army, and Sam comes to realize that her dreams of her twin are not only real – but that they are much more dangerous than she ever could have imagined. I was really liking this series. I mean, really liking it – enough that I sat other things aside and continued reading through all three books without stopping, other than to do what I absolutely had to. EDIT TO REVIEW: It appears that the whole "won't be publishing any longer" wasn't actually Keri's fault. Here is a note from here. I really loved the books, Keri, and will be updating all my reviews. I also just finished Full Moon Rising and will be writing a review on that one too. Loved it. Sorry I’ve upset you by not finishing the series…but the reason is not as simple as I didn’t feel like finishing it. I had planned a 4th book, but the Riley Jenson series came along and given it was my first major book contract (along the publisher’s decision to release the first 4 books in one year), I had to give priority to that series rather than the Spook Squad novel. And I’m afraid that several years away from the Spook Squad world meant I was no longer immersed in it. I’d rather leave a series unfinished than make a total and utter mess of it. However, with Bantam re-releasing the series in paperback in the US, I did write a brief (5 page) epilogue that gave some closure on the relationship aspects. The rest of the plot (and the war) does remain unfinished. Again, sorry to upset and disappoint you. I wish I could finish the series, too, believe me, but there’s just too many other books I have to write. So, now we know why Spook Squad was never finished – the demands of Publishers! I am updating and reposting my reviews everywhere to take her note into account. So, my apologies to Keri for losing my temper and being a snot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Relegated to the Spook Squad, Sam Ryan finds herself chasing kites; and this is not an innocuous task- kites are vampiric monsters with no apparent motive but a great appetite for murder. Investigating this with her recalcitrant partner draws Sam into an exploration of genetic engineering and closer to learning about her own mysterious past. .......................................... *** On the plus side, a fast pace is set and maintained throughout the intriguing plot. However, though characterization is still good, action took priority over it in this volume of the series. Yet, it is still a good read. ***