Dreamspinner Press’s new imprint, DSP Publications, opened their publication with the “Infected” series by Andrea Speed. DSPP publishes LGBTQ+ fiction, that doesn’t have to have a romantic focus, unlike the main publishing house, which publishes MM Romance. I am excited about this imprint, and had to read the first book in Speed’s series, Prey.
Roan McKichan is an ex cop, who works as a private investigator. He is also an infected. In this parallel universe, a bloodborne pathogen has spread through a minority of the population, and the side effects of contracting this disease are turning into a cat five days out of the month…not a cuddly, fluffy domestic cat, but a big, angry, feral cat, that has no idea that it’s really human.
As an infected former cop, Roan gets sucked into a lot of jobs involving “kitty crimes”, crimes people commit while transmorphed into a big angry cat. Even though these people are seen as blameless in the eyes of the law, they can still be “put down” in kitty form, and they aren’t given the respect as other citizens, as Roan is well aware.
In the first half of Prey, Roan is investigating a kitty crime that looks like it could have been done by his own partner, who is also infected, Paris Lehane. Apparently Paris got out of his kitty cage on the night of the murder. Roan has to try and clear his partner’s name…but what if tiger-Paris really did it? Sure, the people-as-kitties are blameless, but Roan knows that it will tear Paris up inside if he finds out that he hurt anyone. The disease already makes Paris grow weaker every month, and if Paris suffers a setback like that, it could shorten his life further.
I really really love the plot of this book. So much so that I’m probably going to buy the rest of the series (which is now completely out). Maybe it’ll come out in a box set or something. Roan is also my favorite type of protagonist: clever, pissed-on by society, an asshole, and gay. He has great hair.
The world was believable and dynamic. Technically this is a shifter book, but unlike most shifter books, Speed introduces a new element. Transformations take their toll on the host, and lead to all sorts of medical problems, including shorter life spans. As a science-lover, I felt like this was incredibly reasonable and added a certain reality to the paranormal aspects of the book.
This type of story is perfect for DSPP. It isn’t a romance. It isn’t even male/male. It’s a paranormal detective novel with a gay protagonist. I’m telling you, this is just the beginning. Soon there will be much more LGBT+ fiction offered everywhere, in all genres, and not just Romance. That’s going to do great things for fiction, people, and I can’t wait. Thanks Speed for being one of the pioneers. Godspeed.
Goodreads link: Prey