REVIEW: The Pill Bugs of Time (Offbeat Crimes Book 2) by Angel Martinez
Book 2 in the Offbeat Crimes series
Relationship and communication issues plague Officer Vikash Soren, but those are nothing compared to facing stick-throwing tumbleweeds, pill bugs and…time travel?
Vikash Soren, the perfect police officer except for his odd paranormal ability, never seems to lose his temper. Always serene and competent, he’s taken on the role of mediator in a squad room full of misfits. But on the inside, he’s a mess. Unable to tell his police partner that he loves him, Vikash struggles silently, terrified of losing Kyle as a lover, partner and friend.
But life in the 77th Precinct doesn’t leave much room for internal reflection. A confrontation with a stick-throwing tumbleweed in Fairmount Park leads to bizarre consequences involving pill bugs, statues and…time travel? If Vikash manages to survive the week and stay in one point in time, he might be able to address normal things like relationship problems. He just needs Kyle to have a little more patience. Maybe a few centuries’ worth.
Dear Ms. Martinez,
I’m getting more comfortable in your Offbeat Crimes world and remembering names and the odd paranormal abilities – some would say disabilities – that go along with them. It’s hard being a police officer but even more of a challenge when fire might shoot from your fingertips, you’re a vampire, a lizard or can sense the negative emotions of waterfowl. This book can probably be read out of sequence but since it handles the personal relationship of Kyle and Vikesh that started in “Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters,” I’m glad I am reading these in order.
That book was mainly told from Kyle’s POV but here quiet Vikesh lets us see his side of things. It’s a bit strained between the two lovers as Kyle is out about being gay while Vikesh has difficulties with both the straight and gay communities since he’s bisexual. In addition, Vikesh is an introvert so PDsA aren’t easy for him. Though the sexuality of the squad room seems fluid, there’s an officer who picks on Kyle so partly to protect him, Vikesh shrinks back from any hint of their relationship going public; something he knows hurts Kyle.
One of my complaints about “Lime Gelatin” was that the paranormal aspect wasn’t as prominent in the story. Mama Pill Bug and her babies take care of that. Philly is infested though the interaction of Squad 77 with her begins during another call to investigate a public disturbance. After arriving at the scene, Vikesh and another officer – who was screaming about huge birds – suddenly freeze up and to the horror of their partners, become unresponsive. Vikesh finds himself in another world or is it another time?
After finally “returning” to the present, he’s jumpy and getting paranoid about the possibility of another jaunt through time and space. The other officer is still out for the count but the squad thinks they have an idea of what caused all this. With the addition of Mr. Jacket – or Leather Jacket, aka LJ – and “Tim” to the squad, can the officers of the 77th Precinct keep their city from mass hallucinations, time travel and beasts from the past? And will Vikesh finally overcome his hesitation in publicly telling Kyle how he really feels?
Vikesh’s “out-of-body” experiences, time travel?, hallucinations? – give him a lot to think about as he’s discovering that either the past or the future can leave you feeling like a helpless child who knows nothing. The future dazzles Vikesh with visions of more sexual and gender identifications than he knows what to do with while the ice age hunters are far more adept with atlatls. But both societies show Vikesh an open sexual acceptance he can only dream about and wish for in his present. He’ll pass on the 10,000 year old megafauna but even that is somewhat better than what Kyle and Vance encounter.
I like that Vikesh still has to work through his thoughts and concerns a bit before he is ready to blurt what he feels for Kyle in the hearing of others. It’s just Vikesh’s way of processing things and stays consistent from the first book. Good for Kyle for insisting that Vikesh be sure that it wasn’t just concern for what the ichthyosaurus (identity to be confirmed after a Google image search) had done to Kyle that got Vikesh talking. And I’m sure the squad hopes that the Pill Bug the size of a food truck will stay in the Jurassic where she belongs. B