Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Charlie Adhara - The Wolf at the Door

Hunting for big bad wolves was never part of Agent Cooper Dayton’s plan, but a werewolf attack lands him in the carefully guarded Bureau of Special Investigations. A new case comes with a new partner: ruggedly sexy werewolf Oliver Park.
Park is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf oversight organization working to ease escalating tensions with the BSI. But as far as Cooper’s concerned, it’s failing. As they investigate a series of mysterious deaths unlike anything they’ve seen, every bone in Cooper’s body is suspicious of his new partner—even when Park proves himself as competent as he is utterly captivating.
When more people vanish, pressure to solve the case skyrockets. And though he’d resolved to keep things professional, Cooper’s friction with Park soon erupts…into a physical need that can’t be contained or controlled. But with a body count that’s rising by the day, werewolves and humans are in equal danger. If Cooper and Park don’t catch the killer soon, one—or both—of them could be the next to go.

Comment: As usual, I got interested in this book due to several positive opinions by people whose taste is similar to mine. This is a story about two different people who must work together and I could already imagine the conflict between duty and love...

In this first installment of the Big Bad Wolf series, we meet FBI officer Cooper Dayton as he is starting a new case in his BSI branch of the FBI, meaning, special investigations, which is a sort of code name for investigations regarding werewolves. In this world, there are werewolves and they have come public about their existence to public entities if not for the main public for safety reasons. It seems obvious there will be too much prejudice if all humanity knew about it so things are taken slowly. However, a recent sequence of cases involving missing werewolves has made it necessary for the FBI to think about partnering up humans with werewolves and depending on the first experience, perhaps other partnerships could happen too. Cooper doesn't know what to think about this but he does want to make a good impression... too bad the wolf officer, Park, seems to make him loose his ability to be polite but is really animosity at the base of his awkwardness in talking to him...?

I liked this book, mostly because of the promise of romance and world building. We learn werewolves are real and live normal lives just like everyone else but they still want their right acknowledged, even if that is only known by public entities such as the law enforcement and the government. I was quite curious about this, and it seems werewolves are born, not made, but although we do have several scenes where being a werewolf is key, it isn't something completely developed. I assume further installments will do this.

As for the romance between Cooper and his newfound werewolf partner, well things happen slowly which, on one hand, I liked, but I should say, since we only have Cooper's POV, the amount of information partaken is surprisingly low, as if it didn't matter. Well, I can understand why it wouldn't where the ficus of the plot is a police investigation but this means I kept having this feel of distance from what was being shared about the whole world and found it lacking. Why are there werewolf characters if if feels they are only necessary when the plot requests it and aside from it, we don't learn that much?

The author is clearly going on a certain style here and that is fine but I kind of wish the world building had been stronger from the get go. I wanted to be immersed in these people's lives and I missed more secondary subjects to focus on. It's true the plot does revolve around the investigation and we do have plenty to find out about the main characters but I wasn't fully pleased with the tactic used, no. Besides, Cooper is quite... particular and his voice wasn't always appealing to see things through.

Cooper is a guy with fears and what he sees as flaws. His relationship with his father and brother is complicated, he hasn't told them he is gay, he knows it won't be accepted well, he isn't feeling he is being the best agent he could be, he has issues from his last case, including medical problems and he feels out of depth in relation to a new wolf partner. His usual partner, Jefferson is a father/mentor figure of sorts although their relationship feels unbalanced, and Cooper seems to be patronized by the older man. 

All this makes for a character that obviously has self esteem issues, isn't overly confident in himself... I actually tend to appreciate characters like this, more on the unsure/shy side and the fun is to watch the evolution but Cooper felt really self centered at times. I believe having Park's POV would have been beneficial but the way things played out, I seriously missed something to counterbalance the less positive aspects of Coopers's personality, as Park is made to be lighter, more certain of himself, more casual, etc...

The romance is just beginning so I still have hopes for them. As for the investigation, would anyone believe that at some point I did start to suspect the "bad guy" was who eventually uncovered? It just seemed the only option from the moment some details were shared but I still liked being proved right. I just hope this means things might become less confusing in the following installments as things settle down from what happened in this book.

All in all, a good enough introduction of the whole thing but I do admit I expected much better and I will have those same hopes for the next books.
Grade: 7/10

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