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Roadkill Cover Picture


Rob Thurman

Published 2010          333 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Once, while half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko were working on a case, an ancient gypsy queen gave them a quite uncalled-for backstabbing. Now, just as their P.I. business hits a slow patch, the old crone shows up with a job. 

The Gypsy wants them to find a stolen coffin. Call would rather help her into one, but this coffin contains an evil known as the Plague of the World – and it makes the Black Death seem like a fond memory.

But the thief has already left town, so the Leandros brothers are going on the road. And if they're very, very lucky, there might even be a return trip.

The Review

Roadkill is the fifth book in the Cal Leandros urban fantasy series by Rob Thurman. While each book is a self-contained adventure there has been a huge amount of character development, not to mention a long-running story arc, since the early books in the series. Therefore readers new to the world of Cal and Niko Leandros would do better to read the books in order, starting with Nightlife, rather than trying to sort out the story-so-far from Roadkill.

At this point of the review I think that I should point out that Roadkill doesn’t actually have any vampires in it. Vampires exist in the mythology of Rob Thurman’s fantasy NYC, in fact Cal and Niko have a vampire (Precious) for a business partner, but she is conspicuous by her absence in this story. Although she may have had the right idea to avoid Cal and Niko’s road trip from hell since being trapped in a car with two werewolves, a puck, a mummified cat, a human and a half-Auphe as they bicker from nearly one end of the continental US to the other might have tried the patience of a saint – let alone a vampire.

Roadkill starts off with Niko and Cal being offered a job by Abelia-Roo a Gypsy queen who has lost an ancient iron coffin that it was her sacred duty to guard. Since Abelia screwed the boys over the last time they had dealings with her they would be quite justified to not take on her job. However since the coffin contains the Plague of the World, a gypsy being that was singularly responsible for the Black Death in Medieval Europe last time it was free, they don’t feel like they can refuse. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance the boys grab their weapons, companions and car and head out to catch the coffin thief.

Maybe it was having the Leandros brothers head out on a road trip, hunting down ancient evil in an equally ancient car with weapons stashed in the trunk and French fries on the front seat. Maybe it was the snarky banter and bickering that thinly disguises the brotherly love but for some reason all I could picture throughout this book was Sam and Dean from the TV show Supernatural in the place of Cal and Niko. There are certainly parallels between the Winchester boys and Cal and Niko – brothers dedicated to fighting evil, a younger brother who maybe destined for evil and older brother who’s determined not to let evil have his sibling. Once you throw in the road trip it becomes more obvious and left me wondering why I didn’t see the similarities before.

Like Supernatural, Roadkill has a more masculine vibe; although it isn’t too testosterone fuelled – so it still has appeal for female readers. There is little time for romance or touchy-feely feelings. There are monsters to be killed and Cal and Niko are on the trail of a truck load of death – weapons and battle strategy are more the order of the day.

Along the way, in contrast to the humour, it is clear that Cal is fighting another battle. His Auphe side is starting to take over his human side and while this means that his cool superpowers are getting stronger it unfortunately seems that he can’t have Auphe perks without sharing their less favourable traits – such as a homicidal desire to kill everyone and everything. This makes Roadkill seem a darker story than previous series offerings and how this storyline plays out in the long-term is anyone’s guess.

The book is rated down a half point for its lack of vampires and down another half point for its dialogue that occasionally turned from witty banter to annoying banter in places. However overall Roadkill is another good outing for the Cal Leandros series and shouldn’t fail to delight series fans.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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