Review: Infected: Holden (Mean Streets #1) by Andrea Speed

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.

I think this is the hardest review I’ve ever had to write.  I started and stopped so many times that I lost my train of thought and had to think about what I was trying to say.  I also scrapped so many paragraphs because they just weren’t conveying what I was really feeling.  I thought about it,  I slept on it, I argued with myself, I discussed it with friends and I think I finally understand what it is about this book that has me so jumbled up in my heart. While I love this world that Speed has created and I gobbled up Roan’s series (except book 2, of course.  You couldn’t get me to read that heart shredding story if you set me on fire), I was disappointed and, to be honest, a bit offended by this book.  Please bear with me while I try and explain to you why this book affected me the way it did.  I have the utmost respect for the author and this is extremely hard for me.

We first met Holden Krause in the Infected series.  He quickly became a favorite of mine and I was so happy to see he was going to get his own series.  I mean, who wouldn’t love a snarky, overconfident ex-hooker (kinda) with psychopathic tendencies?  He was strong and fearless and always looking out for those who were more vulnerable.  I looked forward to the parts where we got his POV even if they were dark and a bit scary.  He took no shit from anyone and he wasn’t afraid to get the job done, even if it resulted in murder.  I adore an antihero and Holden was the epitome of an antihero.  So when this book was offered for review I jumped on it, just knowing I was going to love it.  It was going to be more of everyone’s favorite snarky ex-hooker (kinda), more shenanigans, more adventure.  What’s not to love?

But, I did not love it.  Sure, Holden’s still snarky and protective and a psychopath but something wasn’t right.  It felt a bit… off.  I didn’t adore him like I did before.  He wasn’t lovable any more.  He wasn’t mean or anything and he still has his vulnerability peeking out from time to time but I never engaged with him like I did in the past.  He felt cold to me.  I didn’t like it at all.  I found myself wanting to skip ahead to the parts where we got Scott’s POV.  Scott I loved.  Holden, not so much.

In Infected:  Holden, Roan has moved away and left his PI business to Holden.  Holden is unsure of his ability to be a private eye but, because Roan wants him to continue as his legacy he starts taking cases.  Of course he’s hired by a drug lord for his first case, because that is his life.  We meet Chai, a former coworker of Holden’s from the escort service where he used to be employed.  He left town a few years ago but, after a traumatic life event, is back, looking a little worse for the wear.  Chai slowly wiggled his way into the case, into Holden’s life and into my heart.  I really liked his character and he balanced out Holden’s aloofness well.  There’s a second storyline in this book too.  Someone is preying on the transgender and gender non-conforming population of the city and Holden feels like it is up to him to avenge those he considers ‘his’ people.  

I liked both storylines.  Yeah, they weren’t as action packed or adventurous as the storylines in the Infected series but what was there was good.  I liked that we got to see a lot of Scott and Grey and we even got a bit of Tank and Fiona.  Kevin and Dee also made appearances.  And the side story with Gareth was enjoyable too.  It wasn’t the story that disappointed me.  I’m actually looking forward to reading book two whenever it comes out.  I have in no way given up on this author.  I’m hoping this book was just a fluke and it will be better in book two.

*deep breath*

Now for the hard part.  I have a few issues.  The first is this book is rife with political agenda.  I felt like I was being lectured for the most part.  Now, I’m all for equal rights and everyone should be able to express themselves however they choose.  I myself am a proud parent of the most wonderful son who just happens to have been born a girl.  But don’t shove it down my throat.  Really, you’re preaching to the choir here.  There’s no need to school me.  I promise I’m smart enough to decide on my own how to feel.

My second issue is with the writing.  There were way too many words for a 200 page book.  It was all too talky, too thinky, too explainy.  The backstories were so in depth that it read more like a biography than fiction.  Nothing was organic.  When I meet someone new I don’t want to know every little thing about their past up front.  I want to be able to learn about them as I go along and decide for myself if I like them or not.  It takes the intrigue out of it if you tell me how I’m supposed to feel about them from the get-go.  And whenever something happened or someone was acting a certain way it was explained, again in depth, exactly why it happened or why they were acting that way.  It kept me from getting to actually know the characters and relating to them.  It made the book become boring and made me feel like I was studying for a test rather than reading a story.

Now for my biggest issue.  This book offended me.  I hate saying that word.  The first thing that comes to mind when I say that is ‘butt-hurt’.  No one wants to be labeled as person who gets ‘butt-hurt’ over a fictional story but I can’t think of a better word than offended.  There is a lot of het-hate in this book.  Nothing overt, but as I was reading along a comment would be made here and there that made me pause.  The more I read, the more upset I got until by the end I was quite pissed off.  Comments like “Shh. The hets continue to think they made this for them.”  or “...he was a bit tired of reading about hets.  Hets were everywhere, and he was getting weary of them.”  It felt to me like heterosexuals were portrayed as cheaters, liars,naive, stupid and foolish people who were too self centered and flaky to have happy, healthy relationships.  And not just some, but ALL heterosexuals.  I am a heterosexual woman who has been happily married for 20 years.  I didn’t marry for money and I’ve never cheated.  I am a strong, independent woman who has a successful career.  I felt discriminated against, like I wasn’t supposed to be reading this book.  Like it wasn’t written for someone like me.  Who wants to spend time and money to read something that makes them feel bad about themselves?

So, it is with great sadness that I give Infected:  Holden only two and a half hearts.  I just cannot abide by some of the things that were written in this book.  But, I want to reiterate that I will continue to read this series and any other of Speed’s books that catch my fancy.  I think Speed is a great storyteller.  I have high hopes that the next book will have less hate and political agenda and more action and adventure.  I wouldn’t say no to a little bit of romance thrown in too.

A copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more at DSP Publications and on Goodreads

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