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Fang and Claw (The Undead Unit) (Volume 1) Paperback – July 22, 2015
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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Fang and Claw by Markie Madden is the first book in the Undead Unit series. Lieutenant Lacey Anderson is chosen to head up a new task force called the Undead Unit, which is dedicated to solving the cases that involve Immortals like her. She's not thrilled about the change of jobs, and is shocked to learn that her new partner will be Detective Colton Scarber, a Wolf. Working with him reminds her of the loss of her family at the hands of a Wolf pack in Greece. Memories she's worked for centuries to put behind her. Their first case leads them to a mysterious suspect, the strange scent of fall, and a connection to Lacey's past that she can't seem to recall. To solve the case, Lacey will need to dig into her past and learn how to work with her new partner.
A futuristic setting where supernatural beings have equal rights with humans forms the background as Lacey and Colton investigate a bizarre and mysterious suspect. All of society knows that supernatural beings exist, but everyone is still a bit wary of them. Lacey and Colton are thrown together against their wishes for they're complete opposites and spend the course of the case trying to find a way to work together. Their differences often result in a clash, but make for a compelling story as they have to find common ground. Even their home lives are opposite as Lacey is a loner and Colton has a wife and kids. They're both judging each other based on what they are, especially Lacey who's struggling to see Colton past the Wolves that killed her family. Markie Madden has captured both sides, giving them both strengths and flaws, and making both sympathetic and likable. Fang and Claw offers an intriguing case that's a little twisty, engaging characters, and the remnants of the past. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Marguerite Madden, called Markie by friends and family, was born August 19, 1975, in Midland, Texas. She grew up in the small town of Flushing, Michigan. While in high school, she took creative writing and was a photographer for the school newspaper. In 1993, she won the National Quill and Scroll Society award for best photo in a high school paper. She began writing her first novel, Once Upon a Western Way, while still attending school. Markie is now married with two teenage daughters, three rescue dogs, and her horse, Athena, who is featured on the cover of her horse care guide, Keeping a Backyard Horse. She tried many times over the years to publish her novel, first on her own, and then hiring a literary agent, all without success. In early 2012, after getting her first smart phone and e-reader application, Nook, she discovered the world of self-publishing through a website called Smashwords. She finally published Once Upon a Western Way through this distributor in April, 2012. In the late spring of 2013, Markie came down with a mysterious illness, which was ultimately diagnosed as leukemia (AML specifically). She underwent a rigorous treatment of chemotherapy, during which, at one point, her life was endangered. While she was hospitalized, an old high school friend who is also a published author reconnected with her. Since cancer and the treatment of cancer forced her out of the traditional workforce, Markie turned her attention back to the world of writing. By December of 2014, Markie was the successful publisher of three books, her first published work, Once Upon a Western Way, now available in print as well as e-format, as well as a self-help guide to horse care, Keeping a Backyard Horse, available in print and e-format, and her cancer memoir, My Butterfly Cancer, available in print, e-format, and audiobook. Her other two will soon be available in audiobook format as well. Markie has founded Metamorph Publishing, in order to publish her own books, and she is now working with two other independent authors as well. Currently, Markie lives in the small town of Fisk, Missouri, with her family, her dogs, and her horse. She is still writing and is working on a crime/paranormal series called The Undead Unit Series. Book one of the series, Fang and Claw, is expected to be available in late summer or fall of 2015. You can find her at her website: http://www.metamorphpublishing.com.
Top customer reviews
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I really enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced and well-researched and the characters were interesting. I especially enjoyed how the author demonstrated how easily even innocuous actions can be misinterpreted as malicious when we refuse to look at things from another person's point of view. The world Ms. Madden created was also really interesting, and I think the advances she imagined are well within the realm of possibility given the time frame. All-in-all, this was a really fun read and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. :-)
Instead Madden delivers a solid police procedural with a heavy dose of paranormal psychodrama. And that's sad, because this makes Fang and Claw an original approach to paranormal fiction that could turn into a rare gem as Madden develops as a writer. Madden emphasizes the everyday detail of the search and wait required by law to build a solid case rather than the bloodlust of the beast.
Think of Fang and Claw as X-Files meets Law and Order SVU, with Mulder and Scully being Lycan and Vampire. Scully is 500-year-old vampire Lacey Anderson, Dallas Police Lieutenant assigned to the Undead Crimes Unit and to supervise werewolf Colt Scarber, whose pack wiped out her clan in 1600s Athens.
Lacey can't forget this fact, unfortunately, nor can the readers because Madden reminds us just about every other page, managing to drag up the grudge at every possible opportunity and dropped hint. Just when you think we've got it and the story's back on track, she's pouring her sob story out to someone else—her bartender, department mandated shrink, the lab tech unfortunate enough to take the latest DNA handoff. (Besides, she's been a vampire for five hundred years. She's not a teen anymore. If a vampire couldn't get over it, then you would hope a cop with a hundred years in homicide would grow a thicker skin.)
When Madden does remember to return to the plot, she builds a solid one, a good procedural built around a skinwalker who serially assaults his victims. (No real spoiler alert here, they identify the suspect half-way through the book and most of the novel depicts they handle the evidence to prove their case in a court of law). Unfortunately, skinwalkers are so rare no one believes they exist anymore, and Madden once again needs to remind readers of this at every opportunity. Every character involved in the chain of evidence, including the janitor, is compelled by the author to say, "Skinwalkers are real? I thought they were myths."
Being a first time writer, Madden misses too many opportunities to build real dramatic intrigue and character development into the story line. A skinwalker plays heavily in Anderson's traumatic history as well current case, but Madden never thinks to bring involve the same skinwalker in both, or to use him to threaten Anderson.
Nor does she really explore the motif of Lycan anger. She teases the reader with the fact that Scarber has to attend anger-management classes but in the end Madden almost paints him as a teddy bear partner for Anderson and ideal husband. She never explores the reality Sarber deals daily with the prospect of falling into genetically and culturally-ingrained patterns of abuse towards his wife and cubs at home (in fact, he never thinks of his children as cubs as do Bill Willingham's characters Big Bad Wolf and Snow White).
I also found myself wondering why, when Madden feels compelled to project the reader forward to the world of 2118 before Immortal Rights are accepted (when almost every other PN and PNR writer doesn't), technology failed to advance much past 2020. The singularity clearly hasn't occurred, the most advanced technology police use is wireless tablets, people still drive cars and still watch movies on TV and DVDs. It's as though the world of Neuromancer never happened, nor did climate change, or any major political shift.
We can hope readers will forgive Madden for breaking from the paranormal formula and stick with her as she explores the series. We can also hope she'll learn from some of her mistakes as the series continues. She has talent that other indie writers lack. The limitation of the time lapse, however, is one readers will have to live with. In Madden's world our grandchildren will still be watching DVDs on low resolution HDTV in a hundred years and driving cars on polluted streets. And, no doubt, the Dallas Cowboys will still be 8-8 under their Vampire owner Jerry Jones.
5 = Delicious dialogue, crisp prose, clever characters & compelling plot
4 = Great read, won't want to stop (5 for many reviewers)
3 = Definitely worth buying
2 = I will tell you what audience will like this, but most readers will want to look elsewhere
1 = If I review a book this bad I felt seriously compelled to warn you
Phillip T. Stephens is the author of "Cigerets, Guns & Beer," "Raising Hell" and the new release "Seeing Jesus."
I found the details of this story mesmerizing. Experiencing the emotions of both characters draws you into their developing relationship, not to mention the fascinating details of police work...DNA evidence, filed reports, and hours of leg work that it takes to gather information.
Everything about this book will hold your attention. You are there with Colton and Lacey as they try to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. The writing is excellent and I look forward to more from this author. Well done, Ms. Madden. 5 stars
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