Monday, April 27, 2009

Dark Need; Lynn Viehl

Dark Need is book three in author Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series. The first book is If Angels Burn, the newest title, released in January of this year, is Stay the Night. Click link in title above to see info page at Fantastic Fiction. Cover image also found there. The series is contemporary alternate reality paranormal (vampires) primarily set in the United States. Ms. Viehl also writes science fiction under the name S.L. Viehl, among other genres. In my opinion it isn’t necessary to read these in order & a reader won’t miss too much by picking up the series in the middle. Similar to a mystery or SFF series, there is an overarching plot that continues through all of the books, however Ms. Viehl is skilled in bringing a new reader, or in my case a lapsed reader, up to speed without doing an ‘info dump’.

Ft. Lauderdale homicide detective Samantha Brown and her soon to retire partner Harry Quinn are tasked to solve a case in which the murder victim was drowned in fresh water and then placed on a park bench within several hundred yards of the ocean. Interestingly enough, she’s also across the street from a goth nightclub called Infusion. Samantha is tall and statuesque and lives alone in a security conscious gated complex. She’s one of those people who allows their profession to be all consuming & her only emotional attachment is to her partner and his wife.

Lucan, who was called Noir de l’Anfar centuries ago, is the Darkyn managing the club and the new gardin in Ft. Lauderdale. Once he was the Darkyn high lord’s pet assassin and enforcer, but has left Europe and Ireland for America and, perhaps one day, peace of mind if not actual peace. Someone is framing him, but whom? And for what purpose? One of his enemies? Or one of the high lord’s enemies? Could it be the Brethren of the Light, that supersecret order within the Roman Catholic church who were all sworn to unquestioning obedience and the eradication of the Darkyn?

Ms. Viehl keeps the pacing high and the plots whirl in my head like the circus professional who spins several plates at once, never dropping one. Lucan and Sam, Michael and Alex (the couple from the first book) are central to the action. John Keller (Alex’s renegade brother & former member of the Brethren) sidles into town as well. The high lord himself shows up & then things really start to happen. As if it was quiet & plodding before. *snort*

Lucan’s secondary gift is unique and unusual & made me smile. I understood his motives when he attempts to push Samantha away, although the use of forced sex made me very uncomfortable and unhappy. The typical Romanceland shortcut of having the heroine end up a) understanding what he was actually trying to do and b) sexually respond in a positive way to his aggression didn’t do much to ease my discomfort. There is only one instance of this in the book. Lucan believes he will not survive the coming confrontation & is attempting to protect Samantha’s life. Each reader will have to make up their own mind about how this is treated. Speaking for myself, I was ok with it although I wish Ms. Viehl had come up with a different way to achieve the same goal.

Obviously, in real life I don’t condone or accept that there is any instance of this type of sexual coercion & violence being acceptable in any way at all. In fiction, though, I can generally give it a pass depending on how the author frames the episode and what the ramifications are.

An excellent installment in the Darkyn series. Spurred me to run to the UBS and buy the next book. I absolutely had to know how a certain plot point that carried over was resolved. I rushed over to my shelves & discovered that the fourth title is the only one I didn’t have. The next one is fabulous as well.

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