Infected Epitaph by Andrea Speed is the eighth book in the Infected series released by DSP publications. The series is primarily an urban fantasy series with a very strong mystery and suspense component added into the mix. For maximum understanding and enjoyment of Infected Epitaph it is important to read the previous books in the series and while it is not necessary it does help to read the short stories that the author has written in this world as well.
As with the previous books, Infected Epitaph has multiple cases to be solved by Roan and his protege, Holden. In one of the cases Roan has been asked to look into a suicide by one of his exes, then there are the police who want Roan to look into a string of infection cases involving young adults and the deadly tiger strain and there is also a case involving a young woman who has run away from home in order to meet up with a man she met at the Church of the Divine Transformation. Three very different cases that leave Roan and Holden doing what they do best, investigating mysteries, stirring up trouble and basically getting people pissed off.
All of the cases are in some way personal for Roan and in the case of the Tiger strain infections it may be even more personal than Roan can imagine. The cases come on top of the FBI wanting Roan to work with them as a type of cat strain consultant and of course there is the ever present issue of Roan’s health. Since the very beginning of the series Roan has been dealing with odd medical issues in conjunction with his being a virus child. Now the problems have escalated and not only is he dealing with more brain tumors but he is having more difficulty than ever getting the lion to go away after a shift or even a partial shift.
In Infected Epitaph, Speed is truly testing Roan and brings home the fact that while Roan may be a medical marvel with how his life has continued when so many have died from being an infected, he is not infallible. The character now must contend with the fact that his health is not getting better and the fact that he continues to push his body beyond what it can endure is finally taking a toll. With the constant threats of an aneurysm and Roan’s need to continually push himself, it is a potential recipe for disaster.
Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of Infected Epitaph is Roan’s husband Dylan. Since his introduction it has been difficult at times to see how he fit into Roan’s world. While the character has always been a strong counterbalance to Roan he has never hit the point where the reader knew he was fierce enough to stand side by side with Roan. In this book it seems that Dylan has finally reached a point where enough is enough and he was tired of everyone taking shots at his husband. In fact, this book seems to be his strongest showing as an equal companion to Roan.
Speed has taken all of the angst and humor that readers have to come to appreciate in the series and taken it all up a notch in Infected Epitaph. The story combines all of the best aspects of a great novel, the mystery, the drama, the comedic touches and the humanity. Although this series is about shifters it goes beyond that and is about people and humanity as a whole. As an eighth novel in the Infected world, Infected Epitaph is perhaps one of the strongest books in the series.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo By Patrick Bouquet – Flickr License