Friday, May 2, 2014

Half Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

Alexander Preston, aka Price, is Verity Price's brother, who is working at the reptile cage in a zoo in Ohio. He is on assignment for his family, researching the changes in cryptid populations due to climate change and species' dying off. It's tough to be a "secret agent" and have a steady girlfriend, but Alex manages to slip away one day to be with his sweetie for lunch - then a corpse turns up! Worse yet, it's obvious to his trained eyes that some sort of petrefactor (like a basilisk or gorgon) has killed their coworker.

McGuire does a fantastic balancing act of foreshadowing a surprising twist that is a major milestone for this story line. His girlfriend, visiting big cat researcher from Australia, Shelby, has a big secret, and astute readers will catch very subtle clues along the way to the big reveal, while those clues are not so obvious that we wonder why Alex doesn't immediately pick up on them. Other authors are not nearly as subtle with this technique, so it's refreshing to see it done well. I just had a twinge or two here and there that said, "There's something...odd...about that girl."

So, as the casualties mount, and both Alex and Shelby come under attack, it becomes a mystery which must be solved - to save our heroes, and to save the cryptids in the area from being revealed to humans and the Covenant of St. George. I have to say, the identity of the killer totally blindsided me. That doesn't happen a lot in mysteries after you've read a handful of hundreds.

So, there are three Price siblings, Verity, Alex and Antimony. I suspect we'll see another from Alex's POV, then a couple from Antimony, before we either return to Verity or do something completely different. Much better to tell the tale this way, from my own POV, than to go massively multiplayer.

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