Cronin’s Key – N.R. Walker
NYPD Detective Alec MacAidan has always been good with weird. After all, his life has been a string of the unexplainable. But when an injured man gives him cryptic clues, then turns to dust in front of him, Alec’s view on weird is changed forever.
Cronin, a vampire Elder, has spent the last thousand years waiting for Alec. He’d been told his fated one would be a man wielding a shield, but he didn’t expect him to be human, and he certainly didn’t expect that shield to be a police badge.
Both men, strong-willed and stubborn, are still learning how to cope with the push and pull of being fated, when fate throws them another curveball.
Rumors have spread quickly of turmoil in Egypt. Covens are fleeing with news of a vampire who has a talent like no other, hell-bent on unleashing the wrath of Death.
Alec and Cronin are thrown into a world of weird Alec cannot imagine. What he learned in school of ancient pharaohs and Egyptian gods was far from the truth. Instead, he finds out firsthand that history isn’t always what it seems.
This is what Twilight should have been like had it not been so focused on that love triangle and tackled serious vampire business instead.
N.R. Walker rewrites what we know of the entire human civilization, interweaving vampire lore into human history. The majority of the book sets about world building which, although info dumpy, was highly appreciated because the questions Alec asked were what I would have asked myself. Even with the info dump, the pacing was just right, with events taking place mostly in Cronin’s posh apartment, plus sojourns to Scotland and Egypt in a span of few days. The vampire Elders, Cronin and fated pair Eiji and Jodis (he’s Japanese and can read DNA, she’s Nordic and can freeze liquids), Alec and other coven members were researching and preparing for a confrontation with Queen Keket who wants Alec. Keket was a new vampire who can resurrect the dead and in the grand tradition of villains everywhere, was hellbent on taking over the world. The battle was exciting, however, I do find the Egypt part slightly anti-climactic because the vampire queen, was defeated a little too easily. There were heart-stopping moments when a couple of the major characters had close calls but overall, this part felt rushed.
Cronin’s Key talks about the fated one, the ionndrainn cridhe in Gaelic, which explains the insta-attraction part. The experience was new to both Alec and Cronin and what I liked about it was that the two did the sensible thing, taking it slow and taking time to get to know each other instead of jumping into the nearest convenient bed despite the magnetic attraction between them. It was pretty cute how coven Elder and ancient vampire Cronin (ginger, Scottish, purrs like a cat) gets all shy and tender then possessive and growly around Alec. Alec (brilliant NYPD detective, sarcastic as hell) tried to resist but couldn’t deny what’s going on between them. Some might not be into slow burn this slow but I enjoyed the dance of want and self-denial between the fated pair. When it comes to OTPs, I’m all for delayed gratification.
History buffs, especially those into Egyptology, would enjoy Walker’s take on Egyptian mythology. MM readers would love the combination of insta-love and slow build romance. I enjoyed all of the above in addition to the humor, sarcasm, bad ass secondary characters and of course, outstanding voice acting by Joel Leslie, also narrator of Broken. Cronin’s Key was a veritable united nations of vampires but he pulled off each character really well.
And oh, Gaelic for extra kicks! To my untrained ear, it sounds like a language with a lot of rrr’s, like a lion’s rumble. Here’s my favorite part, when Alec was attacked by the Russian vampires:
Alec was pressed up against the living room wall, his heart beating so damn hard it felt as though it would stop. He was safe, he knew he was, because it was Cronin who pressed against him. His scent was like a balm, soothing and warm. Cronin’s hands pressed to Alec’s face. “Rug mi ort, rug mi ort,” he whispered over and over. It was Gaelic, though Alec had no clue what it meant. Cronin pressed his cheek to Alec’s. His eyes were closed. “Sàbhailtcachd, m’cridhe.”
Which translates to: ‘It’s okay, I have you, I have you.’ ‘You are safe, my heart.’
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits