Book one of the Mutant Files
By William C. Dietz
Available now from Ace (Penguin Random House)
I picked up this book because of the awesome cover and because Ace is one of those imprints that tends to put out my sort of books. I loved the beginning, wherein Detective Bruce Conti begins his partnership with Cassandra Lee. I liked that it was a reversal of the usual setup. The guy is the younger, less experienced one trying to prove himself to the squad and she's the world-weary one who has seen too many partners come and go.
But I started to suspect that DEADEYE wasn't for me when Conti died in chapter two of stupidity. That is, running out in front of nine armed men without a bulletproof vest for reasons that are never adequately explained. Lee's narration later suggests that he loved her, which ... they knew each other for about a week, and he was attracted to her but they were still standoffish. Of course, Lee's partner falls in love with her in about the same span of time, so it's that kind of book.
And it turned out the Lee that those first chapters sold me on was a mirage. She's not a hyper-competent cop with an aim to put everyone else to shame. Her competence comes and goes as the plot requires. This includes getting into a lockable cage just because a nice man asks her to. Her aim gets worse as the book goes on. As for her detective skills, she starts to suspect that the high-profile girl whose bodyguards were paid off was kidnapped specifically and not just snatched randomly by human traffickers after she tracks the traffickers down and they've already passed her off to the buyer. It's present like another obstacle in the plot instead of a flashing sign that all the detectives involved need to learn to stop and think before leaping in guns a-blazing.
But why is it called the Mutant Files, you might ask? Because a virus spread through the human race, killing some and mutating others. Now the norms and the mutants live separately, wearing face masks and other gear when they cross the border into the others' territory. After all, the virus is still highly contagious. Which is why Lee worries about eating too close to her partner but still has sex with him. As if a virus with a variety of wildly different symptoms didn't strain my disbelief enough.
This book is a mess. The main character is unbelievable, the world makes no sense, and the plot is basically an excuse for one shootout after another. There's almost no weight to the climax because it's just one more gun battle of many. It does have a woman as the lone-wolf detective with a guarded heart, which is about all it has going for it.