It’s 1993, and while the Vietnam War is long over, veteran Kurt Powell’s alcohol and drug addiction left its mark on him. He’s now a federal agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs and is raising his teenage son with his ex-wife. His job is now to keep tabs on dangerous paranormal creatures and humans who abuse their magical powers and break the law. On a mission for information, Kurt visits a prison where inmates live a hard life and Desmond Hughes makes an impression on him.
Desmond was sent from Ireland to the United States as a young boy to live with distant family. He never felt he fit in and was on the road and alone as a teen. That was where he met Larry and fell into a relationship with a madman that led to the horrific murders of a dozen people. Desmond has now been in prison for seventeen years and there is no hope for release. He rarely speaks to another person and his days are harsh and cruel with endless monotony.
Kurt is sent on a new mission, but he needs Des’ help to prevent more innocents losing their lives. Des has no thoughts that he will ever be redeemed and he knows what Kurt thinks of him. But the attraction between the men may leave room for other plans.
Convicted is part of Kim Fielding’s Bureau series. The author indicated the book is a standalone and I had not read the other books in the series. This book takes place in 1993, and it wasn’t until I went back and researched the series that I learned that all of the books take place during different time periods. While the relationship between Kurt and Des stands alone, I did feel off balance as there is no background offered on the Bureau or the world itself.
Kurt is an agent with the Bureau. He has come up against many different species during his career and we are told about a few of them in passing, but how the worlds all fit together is not explained in this book. For Kurt to get a call regarding any type of creature or magical being is just another day’s work. His latest mission takes him to a high security prison where Des is incarcerated.
Des got involved with the wrong person and is paying the price every day. His incarceration is extreme, he is almost completely isolated, and he hasn’t so much as seen his reflection in a mirror for the past 17 years. For him to get a visitor is a complete shock to his system.
The book then takes the men on a road trip across the country as the Bureau needs Des’ help as new information is uncovered regarding the events that led to his incarceration and innocent people could once again be in danger. We are told about what led to Des’ prison sentence, but it all read as basic to me for what seemed to be a complicated plot, and just getting small pieces of it didn’t give me the empathy I think I was supposed to feel for Des. The description of his conditions in prison came through well, but then we were told about different points in his life and they didn’t resonate with me here. It was the same with Kurt, as we are given an overview of his life, but he didn’t grab me as a character either.
The attraction between the men is subdued as well, and the ending came across as rote and expected. Kurt’s boss is supposed to be mysterious, but not having any prior knowledge of him, he read as a cliched character for the type of agency and story he was put into.
I have liked other books by this author, but Convicted as a standalone was underwhelming with not enough backstory here for me to become fully immersed.