REVIEW: Dark Need by Lynn Viehl
Dear Ms. Viehl:
I have pondered this book for a week now uncertain of what to write. Over the course of the past week, I’ve tossed around arguments in my head about what didn’t work for me in the story and why I am still excited about the series. It comes down to this. I fell in love with Alexandra and Cyprien in If Angels Burn and the promise of seeing them together has me slavering after you like a devoted puppy. If you should ever decide that they are no longer integral to your storylines, I won’t be interested because the world you created, while interesting, is overpopulated with unnecessary characters and dangling plot lines.
Dark Need starts out with a bang. Samantha, an overworked and underappreciated homicide cop, is investigating a death that is associated with a local nightclub owner who goes by the name Lucan. Those who follow your series know that Lucan is the bad boy of the Kin. He is the boogieman whispered to bad Kinlings at night. He is ostracized amongst his people and has always had to play second fiddle to Michael Cyprien.
The excerpt you had at your website for months was one that I read about ten times.
Sam tried not to jump on that, but it was irresistible. "Do you often have one night stands with strange, nameless women, Mr. Lucan?"
Three nights." He drained his wineglass and straightened, moving a step closer.
Sam smelled night-blooming jasmine, but couldn’t identify the source. "What was that?"
"It was a three-night stand. I kept her in my bed for three nights." He bent closer, and his voice dropped to a bedroom murmur. "How many nights would you last, Detective?"
The problem is the dark and naughty promises you made in the excerpt were never fulfilled. Instead I read a story about a female detective who had serious problems with a former partner. Those serious problems had nothing to do with the plot between Lucan and Samantha. Those serious problems did not further the character development. Those serious problems did not interweave with the troubles Lucan had with his enemies. It built up to absolutely nothing.
Lucan’s character presented several fascinating elements which were never fully explored. How does he resolve his internal emotional conflict with Michael Cyprien? Was his desire to have his own jardin simply a power ploy or does it come from some deeper need? What about Lucan’s inability to touch anyone and how does that impact his relationships? All those issues were brought up but never discussed in detail and his bad boy status was explained away because he was simply misunderstood.
Much of the story is told in halfs. You only get half a scene before the book cuts to a completely different set of characters. You only get half a plot. This is fine if you actually finish those scenes or plots at some point but all too often, the half scenes were never fully realized and neither were the half plots. Maybe one of the reasons that the half plots and half scenes and half characterizations were unfulfilling is because you try too much in one story. There are so many plots going on in the book: Alexandra and Cyprien’s hunt for a vampire who has lost his mind; Lucan and Samantha’s attraction; Samantha’s conflict with her stalking former partner; John’s continuing battle with the Order; Richard’s stability; the mystery of Samantha’s supervisor and a new transfer into Samantha’s department. I can’t really go into more of the problems without ruining the plot but suffice to say that there were two minor (HUGE) inconsistencies, one of which involved Lucan’s special power and another involving Richard.
After the big climactic fight scene that involved everyone and his extraneous cousin (and the extraneous’ cousin’s cousin), I was left with a lingering sense of unfulfillment and the knowledge that if the next book didn’t include Alex and Cyprien, I wouldn’t be buying. I can’t tell you how this disappoints me because I really loved your first book in the series. You have great talent for telling a story and I keep buying your books in hopes to recapture the magic that I felt when I read If Angels Burn. In this case I felt like your talent for creating characters and plot ideas overcame the story itself. Too many ideas and not enough resolution. C-.