by Rob Thurman
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451461391
Date: 06 March, 2007 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Cal and Niko Leandros, heroes of Rob Thurman's debut novel Nightlife are back and better than ever. Cal — the son of an Auphe (the race that inspired stories of elves) and a heartless alcoholic Gypsy woman — and his half-brother find themselves in all-new depths of danger in Moonshine, their second adventure.
The two brothers recently survived a scheme by Cal's inhuman (on his father's side) relatives, and now find themselves less harried and more able to improve their lot in life. Niko, the self-trained ninja and jack-of-all-trades, is taking classes and Cal is trying (without much luck or enthusiasm) to find a job. Together with a vampire named Promise, they work as "security specialists" (i.e., bodyguards and private eyes) for supernatural clients.
A business meeting sets up a profitable, short-term assignment for a werewolf crime boss... or so it seems. Instead, the brothers are betrayed by their contact — a shady werewolf lawyer named Caleb — and forced to retrieve a long-lost crown. They call on their friend Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck, the one from Shakespeare), whose help comes with a side order of millennia-honed snark, to follow up on a tenuous lead.
Cal and Niko plunge into the messy and violent world of the werewolf criminal underground. The trail leads to a werewolf-only bar called Moonshine, where Cal takes advantage of his half-Auphe heritage to win employment with Cerberus, a freakish two-headed crime boss who may have the crown they're seeking. Things don't go well, and the brothers' plans shatter as some unexpected enemies make a move and Caleb seizes a hostage: Cal's almost-girlfriend and local oracle Georgina (aka George).
If they want to get George back alive, the brothers have to be fast and brutal. There's going to be hell to pay... but there are an awful lot of unknowns as they plunge ahead. Why does their enemy want the crown? And what will they have to do to get it?
Rob Thurman takes the story to the next level in Moonshine, taking Cal and Niko deeper into the supernatural community and giving them more diverse enemies. It's a fast-paced story full of action, yet makes time for great interaction between the lead characters—the bond between Cal and Niko evolves, as Niko finds a love interest in Promise and Cal (sort of) figures out his relationship with George — with Goodfellow making plenty of witty retorts. George becomes a more important character in this novel, while Promise promises (no pun intended) to be a major player in the future as well.
The plot is complex enough to please mystery fans, with supernatural elements that put this in the company of Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris. There are some terrific villains and enough misdirection to keep readers guessing up to the climactic showdown between Cal and his true enemy.
As an author, Thurman is making strides with every chapter. Fans of dark urban fantasy will certainly want to follow Cal's adventures.