CBR Bingo: Fresh Start
I chose Strange Practice for my Fresh Start square because I was really intrigued by the premise. Unfortunately, it ended up being kind of disappointing and I probably won’t continue the series.
Strange Practice is the first Dr. Greta Helsing book, a mystery series that focuses on a London doctor whose patients are all supernatural. Dr. Helsing treats demons with chronic coughs, injured ghouls, arthritic barrow-wights, and any other supernatural creature you could think of. As the story opens there’s a serial killer on the loose in London, the only clue to his or her identity being the rosary left on the body of each victim. The killer has suddenly changed tactics from killing civilians to attempting to kill a vampyre (yes, this is the proper spelling for reasons that are kind of silly–but in this world there are both vampires and vampyres) who Greta is asked to treat.
Greta soon becomes the target of the killer, and we learn that it’s actually a whole sect of mysterious monks with glowing blue eyes, bent on killing supernatural creatures and supernatural adjacents like Greta. Greta, along with a vampire, a vampyre, a demon, and another guy (I admit to not reading closely, but I really don’t think this guy–Cranswell–was introduced with much more than a “he studies the supernatural and his dad was friends with a vampire”) must try to figure out the reason for the attacks and stop the monks.
I was excited for this series, which I thought seemed right up my alley, but I was pretty disappointed with the execution. For one thing, I found the explanation behind the monks’ glowing blue eyes to be kind of silly. I also didn’t really understand who the villain was, in the end, and I really didn’t think the religious overtones that some of the supernatural creatures had was necessary. You want to write a book about Hell, Heaven, angels and demons, fine, but it’s kind of lot when you also have witches, vampires, ghouls, and mummies running around. When it became clear the monks really wanted to kill supernatural people, it was never really explained why they started off by killing a bunch of regular people first. Oh, and the absolute most annoying thing about this book–Vivian Shaw overuses italics like no author I’ve ever seen before. I said I hadn’t read this book closely–that’s because the italics were so common that I would get distracted and started counting the number of times she would use italics in a single paragraph (it was not uncommon to have three or four italicized words IN ONE PARAGRAPH, multiple times on one page). It was just way over the top. People can read inflections and emphasis in thoughts and dialogue without italics!
I may give the second book a try–but I probably won’t.