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Death's Head: NARC #1 Paperback – March 15, 2004
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About the Author
A self-confessed science fiction and fantasy devotee, Mel Keegan is known for novels across a wide range of subjects, from the historical to the future action-adventure ... but certainly MK is best known for the NARC series, featuring iconic characters Jarrat and Stone. Mel lives in South Australia with an eccentric family.
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There are two protagonists in the book, Stoney and Jarrat, officers in NARC. They are like futuristic sci-fi versions of the DEA. Keegan is obviously a sci-fi aficionado, the descriptions of the high-tech weaponry, armor and spaceships were very illustrative and added a lot to the story.
The plot - and subplots - were well done. The main plot involves bringing down a drug-running crimelord, Mavvik. Jarrat starts the story out undercover, and of course everything that can go wrong goes wrong, and the heros have to help each other out of various scrapes. The other major plot is the relationship between Jarrat and Stone. The tension between the two was great for most of the book. It kept me waiting and excited about when they finally get together, and was one of the reasons I kept turning the pages. The payoff in that regard was good but not as climactic as I was hoping, although I'm not sure I can put my finger on why. Maybe it should have waited until book 2 (which I haven't read yet but fully intend to), just because it would have built anticipation even more, and in a way distracted from the plot.
The most well done character was, in my opinion, Evelyn. She is a minor character who serves a critical role, and seemed to be the most realistic, well-drawn of the bunch. The most relatable, perhaps. The dynamic between her, her younger brother, and each of the characters she interacts with was tangible.
The sex scenes were explicit, but did not overwhelm the story. The book is definitely sci-fi with a few erotic scenes, as opposed to erotica with a few sci-fi scenes.
Anyhow, I will be reading book 2. I recommend this book to fans of gay sci-fi. I can't give it 5 stars, but it is a good read, and I am proud to add it to my collection.
The origin story for the NARC series, Mel Keegan uses this novel to introduce the main set of characters, the background of the narcotics squad, NARC (the RC is riot control) and the premise for the empathic connection between the two main characters, Jarrat and Stone. This will be the "bumpy ride" Bette Davis's Eve told you to fasten your seatbelt for -- the intricacies of the plot, the thoroughly thought out world building, and the complex characterization not only of the main players in the book but the many lesser yet no less vital characters that enrich this exciting story, all combine to make this a book you will not be able to put down until the breathless end.
A criminal organization, Death's Head, is spread a highly addictive and deadly narcotic called "Angel". It takes over your brain and senses and gives you what you perceive as perfect joy. But in little time it ravages your body and mind, and you die. Jarrett and Stone are officers on the NARC starship from very different backgrounds, but they have one thing in common - well, two - their dedication to NARC and the fact that each is secretly really into the other. They are on the planet Chell to look into the source of Angel. When Stone goes undercover he is captured and made an Angel addict. Jarrett goes in search of him, finds him more or less a simpleton at a controversial neurologist's compound, and agrees to let his mind be empathically l inked with Stone's as the only way to break the addiction. In and around the exciting, frightening, and violent story you become acquainted with how the two men can communicate automatically and serve as rescue beacons for each other. One of the things they learn right away is how they each feel about the other. They know their careers are inextricably linked now, and they both also know they have a choice of being guinea pigs for NARC or leaving the beloved service.
Keegan does a masterful job imagining and then illustrating what it would be like to think and feel everything another person thinks and feel, and besides its practical aspects it certainly makes the sex hot - imagine feeling both your own and your partner's orgasms! One of the novelist's arts is being able to be in another time, place, and head and then dramatizing it so a reader is there too. Keegan is good at everything, but I don't think there would be much argument with the contention that science fiction is his particular forte. Thankfully there are sequels!
Other than that I would really love to see alot more novels like this one with strong central gay male leads and you know an actual story that's fun!
I'm still very much looking forward to Keegan's historical novels/adventures, but I will skip the rest of this particular series.