by Jordan Summers
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765359148
Date: 04 November 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
By 2160, the world is a pandemic environmental disaster in which for practical protective purposes the ozone is gone; forests are non existent beyond a few small groves of trees and desert rules the landscape. In this dying land, the former superpower the United States of America is no longer united, as a series of independent republics have formed with only one inter-regional governmental entity linking the new nations. The republics established the International Police Tactical Team (IPTT) to cross lines in order to insure justice occurs and serve as a buffer to abate hostilities. Rumors abound that genetic engineering experiments led to Captain America like super soldiers, but most IPTT deride that because no one knows anyone who has run into a superhuman.
Raised by her grandfather who heads IPTT, the only female cop on the peacekeeping team, Gina "Red" Santiago, investigates an odd vicious homicide which her superiors insist is an unfortunate animal assault; ergo closed case. Disagreeing, Red follows clues that leads her to Nuria, the Republic of Arizona. The residents act strange though warily friendly to the outsider. Especially friendly and wary is Sheriff Morgan Hunter. Red and Morgan are attracted to one another. She begins to uncover the truth -- Nuria is home to a werewolf pack and its alpha pack leader sheriff. She also knows the predator she investigates has brutally murdered others and seems to be circling Red.
This is the first of a paranormal romantic police procedural series that has as a background the bleak futuristic world and in this case a serial killer. Being the opening gamut of a saga requires loads of world building: describing the environment, the governmental order, and the social structure. This adds to the reality that in five decades the United States of America collapsed into independent republics due to the environmental destruction of the planet. While that is critical to setting the stage, it also detracts from the murder mystery and somewhat from the romance. Still fans clearly will see a dying world backdrop.
Red is a kick-butt heroine in the mode of Lara Croft, who takes her work seriously; so much so that ending the psychopath's killing spree comes before her desire for the local sheriff. She even uses herself as bait. Her inner strength enables her to not just go toe to toe with the town alpha male pack leader, but keep him struggling to keep up with her especially when she risks her life. They are obviously life mates at least in his mind and that of the reader; Red has a different opinion regarding their desire for one another.
Readers also get inside the head of the vicious serial killer as he provides first person commentary describing his motives and the details of the killings. These scenes need to be read on an empty stomach, but enhance the reality of a deserted world increasingly turning barren. Jordan Summers provides a strong opener in a saga that is a post apocalyptic paranormal romance fans will appreciate.