Book Review: Bitten by Dan O’Brien

15012058Title: Bitten
Author: Dan O’Brien
Genre: Paranormal Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: November 21st 2011
Goodreads | Author Website | Amazon | B&N
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

A predator stalks a cold northern Minnesotan town. There is talk of wolves walking on two legs and attacking people in the deep woods. Lauren Westlake, resourceful and determined F.B.I Agent, has found a connection between the strange murders in the north and a case file almost a hundred years old. Traveling to the cold north, she begins an investigation that spirals deep into the darkness of mythology and nightmares. Filled with creatures of the night and an ancient romance, the revelation of who hunts beneath the moon is more grisly than anyone could have imagined.

Lauren Westlake works for the FBI, and she uses her position with the FBI to dig up ‘cold cases’ that pop up again after several decades. This time her investigation brings her to a town in northern Minnesota called Locke, during a cold, snowy winter. Several gruesome deaths have happened in town, much resembling an old case, and it’s up to Lauren to solve the mystery and capture the culprit before he makes anymore victims.

Stories pop up all over town about ravaging bears or wolves walking on two feet responsible for the murders. People even claim supernatural causes. The sheriff however, Montgomery, is a rational, down-to-earth man who doesn’t believe in the supernatural. If they want to find the murderer, Lauren and Montgomery will have to put their differences aside and work together. But while she struggles hard to find the person responsible for all those deaths, Lauren meets a handsome man named Dominic. They instantly connect, and although she has the faint feeling Dominic holds many secrets, she’s willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Until the secrets sound like they may somehow be connected to the murders…

As a paranormal mystery, Bitten does a pretty decent job. I liked the story, and I loved how the author took werewolves back to their original form. No more softies who hang out in packs and do everything the Alpha says, but ferocious, dangerous animals capable of killing humans without remorse. It’s a nice twist back to old-school werewolf lore. I also liked the main character, Lauren. In the beginning, she seemed very much focused on her job, but the more I got to know her, the more I senses she was just making up for something. When she finally opened up to people, Dominic in particular, I began to like her a lot more. Dominic however – well, I didn’t feel much for him. To be honest, I even liked sheriff Montgomery better. The sheriff seemed like your typical small town sheriff, forced to face problems he’s never heard of before, and who’s in over his head but tries bravely to make the best of it.

What I didn’t like about Lauren however, was that upon meeting Dominic not only did she open up – which was good – but she was also reduced to a giggling school girl with zero personality. Add to that the fact I didn’t even like Dominic, and you can understand my issues. Lauren acted all high and mighty, touch like hell, for half of the book, and then turned into a foolish teenage girl head over heels in love. It didn’t work for me, and thus the romance itself didn’t work either.

As a downside, the narrative often jumps from character to character, and it’s all very confusing. I did love the parts from the killer’s perspective – although they were sometimes VERY gruesome – but I wish it would’ve been clearer what happened at some parts in the novel, and who was doing the talking.

All in all, Bitten was a nice read. It gets great credit for interesting, original werewolf lore and going back to the concept of dangerous predators rather than sweet puppies. I had mixed feelings about the protagonist, and I felt she could’ve been fleshed out better, or at least be more consistent. I didn’t like Dominic, but I very much enjoyed reading about the other characters in Locke. The murders were very detailed, and horrific. It’s a nice horror story, with a decent plot and enough suspense to keep me reading. I wouldn’t mind reading more books about agent Lauren Westlake, provided she shed off the teenage girl attitude and goes back to being a tough cop, but perhaps a bit more open to others.

If you like werewolf books and you’re not afraid of a little gore, you’ll enjoy Bitten.

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