Spike (VIRALS #5.5), by Kathy and Brendan Reichs

Seven stars

Another VIRALS instalment is sure to leave readers with a fuzzy feeling while showing off how Kathy and Brendan Reichs have mastered the art of young adult fiction. In this novella, Tory Brennan has finally met the day she doomed, her father is finally set to marry long-time girlfriend,Whitney DuBois, in the most lavish event that a Southern Belle could imagine. However, the day is fraught with issues: a missing garter, wilting flowers, and even a poorly assembled stage that almost catapults the bride and groom into the gathered audience. Luckily, the Virals are on hand to help, still able to use their heightened telepathy communication capabilities. Tory leads the way in trying to determine what or who might be behind all this, but spies something new, an errant caterer caught adding some substance to the wedding cake icing. After a struggle, they are able to detain him, but are no further ahead with a motive and mastermind. Enter Tempe Brennan, forensic master and always around for a cameo. Just as Tory helps unravel the mystery, she encounters a new one, related to her boyfriend Ben and his plans after the summer. A cute addition to the VIRALS series, sure to entertain the young adult in all of us!

Having been a long-time fan of Kathy Reichs, I joined the VIRALS train when it came to town. The stories are decent, geared for young adults/teens and fit the bill effectively. They read easily and offer a great variety of characters, offering the odd cameo by the famed Tempe, while progressing nicely. Reichs (both of them) offer a wonderful narrative and some interesting insights into this gang of innocent misfits, while curtailing the previously well-honed half-canine abilities they acquired early in the series. Of all the tales that have been presented, this was, by far, the most grounded and based in reality. A fresh approach, though it does leave the door open for many more adventures, just when I thought the series had tied itself off.

Kudos, Dr. And Mr. Reichs for this wonderful addition to the series. I am eager to see if you run with the bombshell you offered at the end of this piece or let things end with it.