Inquisitor, by RJ Blain (29:08)

IOD-InquisitorToday we see that plausibility needs to be more than skin deep.

What I gleaned about the story: When a sexy young werewolf/accountant goes to New York to help a client out of a social jam, she ends up getting sucked into a world of intrigue, where ancient powers are battling for control of… something.

Find this book on Amazon.

Kudos: Another entry for the Gorgeous Cover Award. It could have done more to sell the supernatural aspect, but still a very arresting image and title treatment.

WTF #1: Premise problem 

Analysis: The opening situation strains credibility for me. Allison is presented to us as a werewolf who has been keeping her wolfy self contained and under control for decades. She’s over 150 yrs old and has got her lifestyle and habits pretty reliably sorted out. The picture I get of her says, sure, she has a wolf problem, but over the years, she’s learned how to deal with it. She has rules for herself. And they work, because here she is, still free, still alive, and still not staked into dust. Or is it silver bullets? Anyway, for her to be successful for so long, one of her rules absolutely must be: Stay out of new situations where you aren’t in control of what happens on full moon day.

Yet, despite this, where do we find her? She’s flown from Atlanta to New York, on the morning of the full moon, to answer some vague “emergency” from some buffoon of a client. She isn’t in love with him. She’s not even interested. He’s just a source of money. But as we see later, she doesn’t actually need his money, because after two centuries of being a werewolf accounting genius, she’s loaded. So with money and love both having been taken off the table, I can see no credible reason why she might break her standard wolf-coping rules for this guy. But she did. And that just doesn’t add up.

WTF #2: On the phone to the credit card company: “Ah, hello. I’d like to verify a credit card. I’m the manager of Lorindale Jewelers of New York, and a suspicious woman attempted to purchase one of our showcase pieces.”

Analysis: Again, not believable to me. Manager dude might have said something like that if he’d been alone, in his office. But in a tony jewelery store in New York City, they would be entirely accustomed to having “scruffy looking” millionaires dropping by. He simply would not have used the word “suspicious” in front of her, on the off chance that he was wrong.

Furthermore, the credit card agent then goes on to verify Allison’s identity by describing her jacket. That’s supposed to be an identity check? For an ultra-wealthy customer? First of all, no credit card agency in the world would use such a method, and any telephone rep who tried to do so would be fired. Second, even if the agent did verify her that way, there’s no chance the suspicious manager dude would ever accept such a flimsy verification.

Note: I also find it highly dubious that after enduring such a fuss, Allison would then actually buy the necklace from him. Exploiting the situation and getting him to slash the price (as she does) doesn’t punish him for putting her through that – he still makes a sale. Proper punishment would have been to walk out the door, credit card in hand, and then buy twice as much stuff from the jeweller across the street. But that’s a matter of story-telling preference, not a WTF.

Note: The whole credit card fiasco is resolved when Allison is rescued by an Amex representative who arrives on scene. And Amex lady just happens to be an old friend of Allison’s. This put my “conspicuous coincidence” radar on standby alert, but it was a minor one so I let it go.

Note: Then we learn that this friend is a “thirty-something mother of two,” who lives in New York. And is a witch. Named Samantha. Really? Allison even “wrinkles her nose” about something a few sentences later. I don’t know if the television reference was intentional or not, but it definitely made me wince. Still not quite enough for a WTF, but my finger did hover over the trigger for a few moments here.

WTF #3: Improbable situation

Analysis: A little bit later, somebody makes reference to the buffoon client’s “pursuits,” and Allison thinks: He never divulged the nature of his income to me. It’s only a line of internal monologue, but excuse me? She is his financial wizard accountant, who has apparently worked miracles for him, keeping a rein on all the money he’s made, yet she doesn’t know what he does for a living? To begin with, she simply couldn’t do her job effectively without knowing what sorts of taxes might apply, what sorts of expenses might qualify as deductible, etc.

But beyond that, even if he hadn’t ever told her, she’s been built up as some kind of accounting genius. And a genius accountant doesn’t need to be told. She’s got all his expenses to use as clues. There’s even a line in the story that appears to defend against this complaint, saying that he’d always provided “receipts and bills using numbered inventories instead of named line items.” But if all the relevant details of the transactions had been scrubbed away, then she would not have been able to work her accounting genius and save his bacon. So in my mind, there’s a conflict here. Allison can either be a great accountant, or she can be clueless about what his business is. But she can’t be both.

And when a story seems to be throwing backflips as fast as it can to explain away a story problem, my immersion definitely pops.

Note: I didn’t get far enough in to be sure, but this may have an element of romance to it as well, and if so, it may be using tropes and audience expectations that I’m not tuned for. Overall, I thought it had a bit of a Debora Geary sort of vibe building up, so if that’s your thing, you might want to check it out.

Lethal Seasons, by Alice Sabo (10:45)
Henchmen, by Eric Lahti (10:00)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.