Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: One small grievance aside, I’m on board for the long haul with Holden.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: With his friend lion shifter Roan McKichan no longer in the picture, former sex worker Holden Krause is now working as a detective investigating cases in Seattle. When he receives a request to investigate a rather unusual case for Big Mike, a local drug dealer, he ignores the potential hazards in working for such a client and takes it on.
But Holden hasn’t given up his vigilante ways, occasionally seeking violent retribution for those ignored by the justice system. There’s a man stalking the streets, assaulting anyone he perceives to be trans or gender-nonconforming in any way. When the brutality escalates, the case becomes personal for Holden.
If he cannot juggle being both a detective and a vigilante, his taste for blood and danger might finally catch up with him.
Review: Holden Kraus is the ultimate antihero. I’d call him a disaffected, socio/psychopathic misanthrope, if hard pressed to call him anything, not exactly a guy who’s out to give you a case of the warm fuzzies, but, then again, he couldn’t give two craps about who likes him and who doesn’t, which is one of the things I’ve gotta respect about him too. Holden is the master of his domain and bows to no rules but those of his own designs.
If you’ve never read the origin series and are picking up Infected: Holden as a hopping off point, it could work as a standalone. I think. It’s hard to say because I can’t unread the other books. I already know and love these characters, so it’s difficult to say if there’s enough in this book to make new readers bond with them. Holden is a badass—has been from the moment he showed up on page and will be long after Speed is finished writing books set in this -verse. But, because he doesn’t present as a man who’d let you into his life, share his thoughts and feelings with you over a beer, he’s not easy to warm up to without the sparse knowledge longtime readers have of him and how he’s gotten where he is. To know what we know of Holden is to love him and the codes he lives by. And will probably die defending.
If you have read Andrea Speed’s Infected series, you knew this spinoff was sort of inevitable. With Roan and Dylan sequestered in Canada, far from the mean streets of Seattle and the pressure of Roan being the king of his urban jungle, Holden has been crowned successor to the king, by the king, to take over the private investigations business. The only question going in was whether or not he was suited to the task. The only answer after finishing this first book of the new Mean Streets series is…time will tell. But, I wouldn’t bet against Holden. Ever.
Saddled with two cases to solve—one for which he was hired, the other of which he took on as a personal mission—Holden remains conflicted over whether or not he has the patience to be a private detective. He’s an action oriented/instant gratification sort of guy (chapter one spells that theory out in fabulous detail), so sitting on stakeouts and digging through newspaper microfiche, both unpalatable but necessary parts of working these cases, have him questioning Roan’s and his own sanity for thinking he could do the job. If there’s anything about Holden we can be a thousand percent sure of, though, it’s that he doesn’t do jack shit unless he wants to.
One of the things I always loved about the relationship between Roan and Holden was their superhero/sidekick dynamic. They worked insanely well together, but with Roan now gone, Holden is picking up the hero slack—albeit in an urban vigilante savage Batman-ish sort of way—and though Holden’s always been a loner, he without question needs a Lucius Fox in the worst sort of way, someone to handle the business side of the biz, which he finds and god, Holden gets to be a total good guy in the process. The Holden version of a good guy, at least, without ever letting on that he’s doing anything but being Holden. I’m already halfway in love with this new partner, too, and can’t wait to get to know him better.
But, let’s not go getting all touchy feely sentimental over Holden or anything, it’s just pragmatism and incidental niceness, and this is the contrast that is Holden Kraus. He cares. And he also doesn’t give a shit. He is apathetic and passionate. He has loved and trusted one man in his life (as far as we know) but gives nothing of himself away. He’s deadly to a fault but the best man to have your back in a fight. It looks like he just might make it in this private detective gig, now that he has some help from an old friend. There’s one thing we do know for certain: regardless of the case, he’ll Frank Sinatra that bitch and do it his way.
Both the case he was hired for and the one that hits too close to home were excellent examples of exactly who Holden is. Deep down behind that barb wire and acid laced exterior is a man who cares about the injustices perpetrated against the defenseless, the man who will mete out his own sort of justice to anyone he feels deserving of it, whatever that punishment may be. I liked the raw and gritty of both cases, with a special sort of affection for Holden’s need to find Big Mike’s truth as well as finding the serial killer targeting trans and gender nonconforming folks. When Holden has the chance to show the scary sort of passion he feels towards taking care of those he considers his to defend, it’s awesomely frightening and frighteningly awesome.
And then, there’s the hockey boys… Yes, they figure prominently in the story. Poor Scott. That’s all I’ll say about him. And Grey and Tank, who are weaved into the story as a means of giving readers a break from Holden’s point of view—there had to be some outlet of levity in the story because Holden is so damn dark that spending an entire book in his head wouldn’t be prudent. Getting a healthy dose of these guys, and Fi, while sometimes felt like an odd detour and distraction from the gist of the story arc, was like visiting with old friends. And, of course, Scott and Grey don’t just serve as window dressing to give the story its charm. They also serve as sidekicks on retainer for Holden, just as they did for Roan. And, of course, Speed uses these moments to also serve as reminders of what a gaping hole Roan and Dylan left in Seattle with their departure. And, poor Scott…
Now let’s talk about my big “but”. The shift from Roan’s to Holden’s perspective in this series isn’t an easy one to embrace, and I knew it was going to be difficult before I ever cracked open the e-file. Without Roan’s quirky charms and his love for Dylan and the family he made for himself, and the irresistible hook of the paranormal activity that gave the original series its unique flavor (and which gave Roan something to focus on other than the cases he was working), the side scenes with the guys felt more like a corralling to get everyone into the book than it gave heft to or advanced the storyline. We get the two cases, which were both perfect vehicles to deliver Holden to the series’ objective, but when the focus was directed away from the investigation of those cases, those scenes outside of Holden’s orbit read like filler. The scenes are an absolute assist to new readers, though, giving a little insight into the oddball gang that loves our Roan, so in that way they do serve their purpose.
That one small grievance aside, I’m on board for the long haul with Holden. You can’t help but get the feeling that he’s going to learn a few things about himself before this series is through, things that he’s probably not going to like very much, but things that we readers are going to kind of love, in a sadistic sort of way, seeing him figure out.
You can buy Infected: Holden here: