Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer
Publisher: Audible Studios (2016)
Length: 9 hours 40 minutes
Series: Book 1 The Secret Files of the Red Room
In this urban fantasy, the morally questionable fight the morally void. Derek Hawthorne and his twin sister Penny were raised within the secret organization known as the Red Room. This organization has kept the larger world safe from the supernatural for millennium. However, Derek is now caught up in a plot that is wrongly accusing him of treason while at the same time he hunts down the evil and powerful Wazir. Things are about to get messy.
This was a fun story. It’s got dark humor, plenty of action, and really interesting characters. I give extra points for all the Richard Matheson references. Derek is our main character and we experience the entire book through his point of view. He’s been raised to be this spy who happens to have some supernatural abilities and his primary job is to keep the populace at large from learning about the existence of supernatural creatures. The Red Room doesn’t really have a retirement plan, so once you’re in, you’re in for lfve. In Derek’s case, he (and his sister) were born into the Red Room. This is what they know. Penny is the witch in the family whereas Derek is more like a scruffy James Bond with some unexpected talents.
Lucy was one of my favorite side characters. She’s so cute and such a geek and doesn’t pick up on social cues. She’s grown up in the lab of the Red Room creating supernatural gadgetry for all the agents. She seems happy if a bit odd. I do wonder what she and Penny do on date night, since Lucy seems to never leave the lab….
While there is plenty of entertaining snark and jokes passed back and forth among the agents, there is this more serious underlying plot. First, there’s the unexpected reappearance of the Wazir and his henchmen. Then there is evidence that a mole is releasing critical information about the Red Room to outsiders. Derek eventually picks up on the fact that some higherups at the Red Room think that mole might be him. As a test of sorts, he’s given a new partner (Shannon O’Riley) and they are sent to question Derek’s ex-wife Cassandra. This plot kept me engaged the entire time because I wasn’t sure how things would turn out. I knew Derek wasn’t a mole but I wasn’t sure about Shannon or Penny or Cassandra. The story kept me guessing and I really like that.
Shannon is a bundle of mysteries. She’s assigned to Derek out of the blue and he’s immediately suspicious of her and whoever arranged for her to be his partner. Still, she’s efficient and pleasant company. As the story progresses, Derek learns some of her secrets and, for the most part, these revelations just make him more wary of her. Still, there’s this sexual tension between the two that make for some entertaining conversations, in or out of the locker room.
Battling the Wazir was more difficult than Derek expected. I really liked that the story started off with a cocky Derek but as one misjudgment or mishap after another occurs, Derek becomes more cautious. The man is trainable! While I was expecting a higher body count, I was pleased that several of my favorite characters made it out alive (if not unscathed). I look forward to seeing what happens next in this series.
I received a free copy of this book.
The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer was a great pick for this book. He makes a really good Derek Hawthorne. I also loved his snarky voice for Penny and his excited, geeky voice for Lucy. His Irish accent for Shannon started off a little rough but quickly smoothed out. He pulls off the humor so well!
What I Liked: Snarky humor everywhere; Shannon’s secrets; Derek isn’t as emotionally devoid as he would have everyone think; I really wasn’t sure who the traitor was; the Wazir was harder to take down than expected; love the cover art.
What I Disliked: It’s a tiny criticism – the Irish accent in the narration started off a little rough.
What Others Think:
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