Slashback (Cal Leandros #8) by Rob Thurman
March 5, 2013
Reviewed By Tori
Favorite Quote: “He touched my little brother-I stopped his heart. Seemed fair to me.“
Revenge is the name of the game when the past merges with the present. Supernatural crime fighting duo, Cal and Niko Leandros, have to use their deadly skills and talents to defeat an enemy from their past. As children, they came very close to falling victim to a serial killer. Though they defeated him, they are now faced with a much larger problem. The man they killed was merely a puppet for a much more dangerous and vicious killer-the legendary Spring-heeled Jack. Jack has never forgiven Cal and Niko for what they took from him. They owe him.
And he has come back to town to ensure they pay.
I am a huge fan of Thurman’s Cal Leandros series. Often, a series with a resolvable conflict in each book and no emotional or high impact cliffhangers to carry from book to book has a hard time maintaining beyond three installments, much less eight. Not so in here. This dark and dynamic urban fantasy series continues to not only maintain but exceeds the expectations of it’s fans. Based on two brothers, one human and one not so human, this series has a wonderful Supernatural (show on the WB) vibe to it. Light on the romance but heavy on the bromance, this action packed series gives us more than a bang for our buck as Thurman send us headfirst back into the lives and adventures of Cal and Niko Leandros. Well-plotted and cast with characters that are strong and personable Slashback is filled with taut suspense, delicious betrayal, dry witty humor, and very dangerous antagonists. A fascinating read that captured me from page one. Thurman does a fabulous job of exploring and continuously evolving the relationship between brothers Cal and Niko as they fight to protect each other and the good citizens of New York City.
Ms. Thurman gift for writing about families and the ties that bind them, is a strong base for her books. She quickly draws you into her character relationships and the dynamics that her story lines are built upon. As always, it’s enjoyable to see Niko not only play the big brother role but also a pseudo father figure and the problems he encounters when he forgets Cal is not only an adult but a very dangerous one. Cal remains, as always, a sarcastic young man who walks through life, straddling the line between good and evil. Half Auphe, ( a blood thirsty demon), Cal struggles daily to stay human and not give into his baser desires. His love for Niko though is strong enough to help him with his battle.
Slashback opens with a bang as Cal is accosted in his sleep and wakes with the bloody wounds to prove it. Cal and Niko are informed that there is a serial killer in town. A serial killer with supernatural origins. We learn that this particular killer is targeting the Leandros brothers as payback for their past interference of his plans. This causes a bit of a problem when they are informed by the supernatural community that they are essentially on their own. Niko is still trying to protect Cal after his confrontation with Grimm but this time around, Cal is holding all the cards and Niko is forced to accept that Cal is no longer the child in this relationship.
Thurman takes a risk by using the past to help tell the story in the present, going back to the beginning to explain what is gunning for Cal and Niko and why. The flipping between the past and present not only gives us a deeper look and understanding into Cal and Niko’s childhood, answering questions we have long asked, but also provides an intriguing set up for a new story line that has me looking forward to future installments. We are also gifted with a dual narration. Both Cal and Niko offer up their insights and observations, making the story seem more intimate and realistic in it’s reveal. As a bonus, fans of Thurman’s Trickster series will enjoy the revelations offered in here.
Old and new characters continue to evolve along with the storyline and give rise to the excitement and humor that permeates this series. As well defined as our protagonists, I find myself equally amused and taken with everyone I come into contact with here-be it a grumpy Bogle, a pervy Puck, or a sociopathic werewolf. Everyone has a story to tell and they are all being slowly revealed as we inch closer to the finale for this series. As always, Cal and Robn share some interesting scenes and will leave you howling with laughter or shaking your head in bemusement.
The ending is a whirlwind of action, suspense, and an explosive conclusion that leaves us with some interesting clues towards the future. The Cal Leandros series continues to walk on the dark side of urban fantasy as it seeks to remind us that monsters do exist in the world and sometimes the only difference between them and the heroes is the circumstances. While you could read this as a stand alone, the long standing arc and character development in this series is quite pronounced. I recommend starting from the beginning with Nightlife.