Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
This was a fun story I truly enjoyed. Kyle and Vikash are such an unlikely pair but they work so well together when you really pay attention. They’re good for each other and help each other in a way they both may not have realized they needed at that moment. I really enjoyed the world Ms. Martinez created in the middle of Philadelphia. The mystery aspect had me wanting to skip ahead to find out what happens. Thankfully I didn’t and I’m glad I forced myself to wait. I loved how there were clues throughout the story and enough misdirection to keep me guessing on the who and why.
The urban fantasy elements in this story were so intriguing. I love how each character has their own brand of “powers” and “problems” to create this almost family atmosphere. Despite the egos and minor problems, you can tell everyone is looking out for each other and has each other’s backs. The underlying unknown of why people are getting powers or how Philadelphia is different in their paranormal divisions was interesting. I’m hoping this is developed further in the books to follow. I would love to know the why behind everything and see more of what the “average Joe” knows about the powers and where they come from.
The ending is a sweet happy for now for Kyle and Vikash while the mystery is all wrapped up. I enjoyed having the mystery element be complete in the book so I’m not left hanging at the end. I am very excited to see where Ms. Martinez takes this series. I will be reading the next one as soon as it’s available.
Kyle is kind enough to stop by to share one of his favorite recipes. It sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it myself. Read and enjoy!
Kyle’s Chili That Won’t Kill Him
Hey! So, you guys know I don’t eat meat, right? I mean, I can’t eat meat since I’m allergic and could, you know, die. Anyway, Kash cooks a ton of great vegetarian stuff, but he wanted me to share a recipe. Here’s the one thing I know how to cook and don’t screw it up. Vegetarian chili.
First the stuff you need:
2 tbs peanut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic (please, for the love of spices, don’t use garlic powder – eew!)
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs (or a teeny bit more) cumin seeds
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce (just don’t ask me to say it – Kash always laughs)
1 28 oz can of tomatoes (I like the peeled kind, but you can do puree if you want)
1 bell pepper, chopped (green works best, but hey, whatever you got)
1 lb of beans (don’t be ashamed to use canned – works for me, and any kind of kidney shaped beans. I like a mix of black beans and red kidney.)
So this is the important bit—don’t just toss everything in the pot and let it go. Start with the oil and the chili powder. Just let it heat up a bit. I don’t know what this matters, but it does. Add the garlic, onion and cumin next and you cook that till the onion’s kind of see-through. Kash says the right word is translucent, but whatever. You know what I mean.
Now you can add the other stuff. If you’re using canned beans, save some of the bean water for later. Let everything come up to a nice bloopy simmer, not quite a boil, then cover it and turn the heat down to low. You’re gonna let it go for about two hours, but come back every half hour to stir it and check. You can walk away for a bit, promise. If it’s getting too thick, add some of the bean water. (See? Told you to save it.)
At about the two, two and a half hour mark, you got chili. This stuff goes great with nachos or by itself on a snowy night with cornbread (which I get Kash to make ‘cause my cornbread sucks.)
Ta-dah! Every hopeless cook needs one thing they do right. And won’t kill them.
Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the Seventy-seventh, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?
“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”
“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.
“—since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”
“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.
“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”
She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.
“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”
Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”
“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”
Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”
After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”
“What…oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”
Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”
“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”
“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.
“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffee pot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”
He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”
Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”
“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”
“Larry’s not keeping up then.”
The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.
Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”
“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”
“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”
A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.
From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks.”
The unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, Angel Martinez has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, gave birth to one amazing son, and realized at some point that she could get paid for writing.
Published since 2006, Angel’s cynical heart cloaks a desperate romantic. You’ll find drama and humor given equal weight in her writing and don’t expect sad endings. Life is sad enough.
She currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.