Today's book review is Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn.
This is book 8 in the ongoing Kitty Norville series. It's a complete episode; you could read it without having read the others, but it's a little richer for knowing the recurring characters.
Despite the title, this isn't a story about going to war, it's a story about the people who come back from war. Although couched in a fluffy brain-candy werewolf story, it says something about what returning vets need and what we owe them that most of us probably ought to spend a little more time thinking about. It also says something about being a good leader. And it shows something else in answer to a common complaint about the genre -- a stable, healthy, long-term relationship that still has plenty of steamy moments and that sustains the main character through the action without having to be the action. There are a couple of points that are a little less believable in human terms -- the CEO and the high-ranking military officer who seem to be overwhelmed by the plot imperative and not quite acting their roles. And there are some lurking issues about the power level -- a villain who is presented as an occult dabbler, but who's apparently responsible for some really epic bad stuff. Oh, right, it's about werewolves and vampires, I shouldn't be thinking too hard about the realism of the world.
I liked the last book in the series a lot less just because it was a slasher flick and I hate those. This one is back to the solid fun that I like about this series. 8 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
Kitty does a show inviting calls about weird things happening at Speedy Mart stores around the country, and gets enough reports to heighten her suspicions that something odd is going on. Then she gets slapped with a libel suit and the most interesting of her callers is killed by a lightning strike before she can follow up. And while this is getting going, the chief of federal werewolf research (not the villain from several books back, his replacement) asks Kitty to come to Ft. Carson to help with a problem. It seems that, although the plans to militarize werewolves were supposed to have been on hold, someone had gone ahead and done it. A Green Beret captain had turned a small unit. They'd been very effective in Afghanistan, until the captain got himself blown to bits. Without their alpha, the unit couldn't hold it together. They'd started killing each other and they were in custody. The leader appeared too far gone to help, but the two subordinates seemed salvageable. Kitty took on that mission, and took them out for a full moon, and Walters ran off to Ft. Carson to rescue Vanderman, the crazy one. Tyler, the sanest, sticks with Kitty. Unfortunately, the other plot is going. The Speedy Mart CEO is a wizard, and he's apparently been manipulated by Roman, the vampire uber-villain. He's conjuring a super blizzard, one which will bury Denver so deeply that a whole bunch of people will die. It delays our heroes' trip to Ft. Carson enough that Walters succeeds in getting Vanderman out of his cell, but they catch up in the building. Kitty gets hurt in a fight, and Walters attacks Vanderman to save her. He gets killed, and then Tyler arrives with the silver bullets. The colonel accepts this resolution quickly. Cormac calls up with the news that he's figured out how to stop the magic, but it has to be done right away. Kitty talks the colonel into releasing Tyler and letting them have a Humvee with tire chains. She dispatches other pack members to most of the Speedy Marts as they rush back to tag a couple themselves. Cormac directs them to a confrontation with Franklin the CEO, and defeats him in the wizard duel. Actually, he reveals, it wasn't Cormac who won the duel, but the ghost that he'd partnered with while he was in prison. Tyler gets his discharge from the military. We expected that he would join Kitty's pack, but he wanted to go back to his human family in Seattle, so Kitty and Ben escort him there. The Seattle pack are good guys and agree to take him on. At the very end, Kitty is starting to think about kids. She can't have her own -- shifting causes a mother to miscarry -- but she could adopt.