REVIEW: The Wolf at the Door (Big Bad Wolf #1) by Charlie Adhara
Dear Charlie Adhara,
My friend Raine told me that she was going to be brave and try a new author. When Raine recommends books to me I listen because our tastes tend to run very close. I am so pleased that I now have a new author whose works I can look forward to. I love well written books about werewolves, and those with BDSM themes, but rarely find either well executed in most stories. I enjoyed this one very much.
Beware, though. Even though the narrative does give us the beginning of a romance between two great guys, the focus of the story is on the mystery/suspense, which I thought was very well done. Don’t get me wrong, for me the book had more than enough romance (and some great sex, too). The men were very busy doing their jobs and while I appreciated how the author made the romantic storyline believable by not making them forget about their jobs in favor of romance, I can see how it may not be enough for some readers.
In this world, the werewolves recently revealed their existence to some governments of the human world. To address werewolf-related crimes, the BSI (Bureau of Special Investigations) was formed. This newly formed organization recruited former FBI agents, most of whom already knew the big secret, usually through an up-close-and personal encounter.
Of course, not all werewolves are happy about even such a limited “coming out” and tensions between werewolves and BSI heat up for various reasons. To improve cooperation between werewolves and the rest of the human world (that part of the world that knows about them) our main characters, Agent Cooper Dayton and werewolf Oliver Park, are paired together. The partners are sent to the town of Florence, Maine to investigate a series of murders that appears to have been committed by werewolves.
Cooper was basically told that his regular partner is not going to be a part of this investigation and instead he gets paired with a temporary new partner, Park – a former university professor and now an agent of “The Trust”, the werewolf oversight organization. Cooper is unhappy with this development, but his Boss at BSI tells him to be on his best behavior and make it work.
The book is written from Cooper’s third-person limited POV and he is the only one who tells the story for the reasons that are made clear at the end of the book. We only see Oliver’s view through Cooper’s eyes and I thought it was very well done. I loved how we got to know him through Cooper while Cooper was working through his missteps and some unintentional prejudices. Cooper honestly wanted to do well in his investigation and not target innocent people, but nobody is perfect and Cooper certainly had to learn/relearn a few things where werewolves were concerned.
I just loved Cooper’s voice. The story encompassed some gruesome murders so by and large this was not a humorous book, which made perfect sense considering the subject matter. But the author managed to insert some humorous touches and occasional sarcasm in Cooper’s narrative.
Rudi Abouesse stared at him from the open doorway. It was a toss-up whether her expression was more hostile or disbelieving. “Why aren’t you as sick of me as I am of you?” She looked over his shoulder. “You know, the good cop/ bad cop routine is usually more effective with two people.”
As you can see the next couple of short quotes are more closely related to the romance storyline. Please note that when Cooper is engaged with these thoughts, he’s literally stuck at a location and is waiting for Park to come and help him out. I did not find romantic comments inappropriate in this part of the narrative at all. I know opinions may differ.
Stupid. Maybe he deserved to have someone drop a rock on his head and put him out of his misery. “C’mon, you bastard. Show me your super hearing. Asshole Park. Huge alpha Park. Big, strong, muscular Park. Amazing Ass Park. Pretty Eyes Park.”
But his surprise at the comment distracted him from the aching in his back for one or two precious milliseconds. Had Park checked him out? Was he interested in him sexually? Was this a reasonable time to be thinking about it? Probably not seemed to cover all three.
The romantic storyline does include some bickering between the men, but once again I thought the author kept it to the minimum and I also thought that while Cooper did occasionally go overboard, he learned throughout the story and he did not do it at the expense of the job. We see him acknowledge that he trusts Park and is attracted to him as well.
I thought the mystery plot was *extremely* well done and I was very impressed by the final twist. The author managed to came up with a believable scenario in which Cooper was clueless until the very end about the main villain. Usually such scenarios make no sense to the reader but, in this case, it was necessary to the plot and made perfect sense toward the end of the story. I am unable to explain it without any spoilers, dear readers. Cooper even tries to get help before he goes to confront the villain whose identity he did figure out and I appreciated that after reading about so many characters in m/m mysteries just bravely and idiotically confronting the villains alone. And still, asking for help doesn’t help Cooper much! You would have to read the book if you want to find out the meaning behind me being cryptic, but I loved the ending. I thought it was very cleverly done.
I am very much looking forward to the next book.