drinker of bloodRating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novella

Things continue to be rough at SPECTR for John, Caleb, and Gray. Their boss Barillo just barely tolerates them and Caleb knows his freedom is in jeopardy. Between that stress and the strange increase in demon attacks in Charleston, the men are worn out mentally and physically. Caleb and Gray are also hunting for the creature they call the not-demon, something that they have been tracking for a while. They are keeping their activity a secret from John because they know he would feel bound to report it to SPECTR, which puts them all at more risk.

Along with their partner Zahira, the guys are assigned a case when the body of a college tennis star is found dead and partially eaten. It was attacked by a grendel, a creature with near impenetrable skin that makes it almost impossible to harm, even for Gray. The investigation is complicated because the college is unwilling to give out more information on the student, and Barillo is insisting they keep the investigation low key. Things get even worse as more bodies pile up, but without support, the case begins to grow cold. Even more concerning is that their inability to solve the case is raising more doubts in Barillo’s mind about the effectiveness of John and Caleb’s partnership.

In the meantime, Caleb and Gray have learned more about the creature they have been hunting. The truth shocks them, but it just compounds the secrets they are keeping from John. Now the men have to not only fight the grendel, but also figure out how to deal with this new entity in town, and to try to protect their jobs and their lives in the process.

Drinker of Blood is the third book in the second season of Jordan L. Hawk’s fabulous SPECTR series. The series builds upon itself with each installment, and you will want to be familiar with the past stories before jumping in here. This is one of my absolute favorite paranormal series, so that is no hardship. Trust me, if you haven’t read it, start at the beginning with season one and enjoy the ride.

This story continues the journey we have been making this season as the guys struggle under Barillo’s new leadership. They have been on the outs, both with their boss and with their co-workers, for a while now and things aren’t getting much better. Caleb is feeling the constant threat that Barillo will separate them at best, or at worst lock Gray and him up. He would love to run, but knows there is no escaping SPECTR, and it leaves both Caleb and Gray feeling trapped. The story also takes an interesting twist as Caleb for the first time feels that disdain for him and Gray in what should be his safe space, and it really shakes him up. So we continue to see the guys struggle here with people’s reactions to Gray and to Caleb’s possession.

The rough work environment is making their case even more difficult as they get no support from Barillo, and in fact disdain and a lot of questions about everything they do. Once again Hawk gives us a clever case with a new creature, and I am always impressed by the way she is able to create a mystery within each book that carries the story, while at the same time advancing the larger series arc. In fact, the two things end up tying together here in a really interesting way.

Things have been going well with John and Caleb/Gray and the love among them really shines through again here. I appreciate that we see that whatever is going on, these men are committed to one another. But at the same time, things are getting a bit shaky as Caleb and Gray keep secrets from John about what they are up to and what they learn about the not-demon. They don’t want to put John in the position of choosing between them and SPECTR, but at the same time, it challenges the trust they all have when John is being kept in the dark.

I’m assuming we are at about the halfway point in the season, and this book is a nice transition point. We are learning more about the big picture of what is going on and we are seeing some of the smaller story lines come together and reach a boiling point. Hawk has set things up really well here, both for more trouble and for some interesting new developments. I am loving where things are going and can’t wait for more. So for fans of this series, of course you are going to want this book, and for those of you who are new to it, definitely get started with season one and Hunter of Demons.

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