Having barely survived their first case together, Derwin Bryant and Elliot Leed have begun to find a measure of solid ground in their relationship. Elliot is no longer working in the sex industry, but instead works as a file clerk for Derwin’s boss. He’s enjoying the safety of it and every night he goes home to Derwin. When a co-worker’s son vanishes, she turns to Derwin and Elliot for help. What starts as a routine missing persons case snowballs into a complex nightmare of counterfeiting, murder, and kidnapping.
As Derwin and Elliot struggle to untangle the many threads of their latest case, they must also contend with several Nis City gangs and an old enemy that could easily destroy Elliot. With the help of their friends and a lot of luck, they might survive to see this thing through. If not, there’s a good chance one of them will end up eaten by a sea monster.
Fraud Twice Felt is the second book in the Oddities series. Murder Once Seen really needs to be read first in order to fully understand the world in which Derwin and Elliot exist. One of my issues with the first book was a lack of word building and I think that continues here. We just aren’t given a good explanation as to why or how this particular world works. This lack of information doesn’t detract from the overall story though. I just felt it was an opportunity missed. Derwin and Elliot are basically the same couple we met in Murder Once Seen and this book picks up only a few weeks after the last story. Because Derwin requires pain to fuel his Oddity, his relationship with Elliot is primarily on sadomasochism. But this isn’t particularly extreme (just some spanking, nipple clamps, etc.), so even if you aren’t a fan of BDSM, this probably won’t be too much for you. Elliot is stronger emotionally in this book and it was a joy to see him confront the demons of his past and while there isn’t a ton of growth between he and Derwin, they continue to work as a couple.
As with Murder Once Seen, though to greater detriment, Fraud Twice Felt suffers from a large degree of boring. The story itself is rather flat and never ramps up even during action scenes. As a result, the book drags and fails to achieve any sense of taunt mysteriousness. Characters spend whole pages recounting actions others took in a previous chapter, leading to a repetitiveness that only adds to the laggy nature of the story. Also, towards the end, Fraud Twice Felt takes on the cloak of a Scooby Doo mystery, with a host of secondary characters joining in who either seem forced or whom we know so little about that they fail to matter. There is an actual sea monster that shows up and I was bored by it! This book just has too much filler and, while it isn’t terrible by any means, it never moves much past “blah.”
If you were a huge fan of Murder First Seen, then you’ll probably enjoy Fraud Twice Felt. For me, the storyline was too bloated with unnecessary information and the action too slow to hold my attention. There is a flatness to the book that never endeared me despite the engaging main characters. This series has the potential to be very good paranormal mysteries, but it deserves better world-building, a stronger story, and a lot less filler.