Somewhere between the boundless enthusiasm of a fan and the keen eye of a critic lands Quarantine Brain.™ Pack of Lies is book two in Edwards’ spinoff series about the Potentiate (read: Magical Cop) of Atlanta (In Training), Hadley, and it proved quite satisfying. The plot is straightforward: Hadley has blacked out twice and is wondering if her attached ghost may be up to his old tricks, trying to escape her control. On the professional front, the witches from the last book are continuing to cause problems in the supernatural community. Then, of course, is her agreement to allow Midas, the second of the local pack, to court her. Eventually, the three plot lines intertwine nicely and progress satisfactorily on all fronts.
The good is that the plot is very action-oriented and doesn’t have a lot of down time. There are the occasionally humorous lines scattered through the book, but never to the detriment of minimizing a serious situation. Although some might say there is a sort of love triangle, it isn’t really, because Hadley is clear that she considers Ford a friend. There’s a nice cast of side characters, including an appearance by Linus, former Potentiate of Atlanta. I do think she and Midas will make an interestingly suitable pair, given their degree of emotional damage.
Problems? In this book, not really. I did feel like the ret-con of Hadley’s home life continued (if there was that much abuse, how could her bestie not have known?), but I’ll try accept it. The support team of the Potentiate reminds me of every support team in every crime-pseudo-military drama ever, and it’s always such a narrative crutch. Occasionally there’s a stupid line (such a hallmark of this type of book!) or three. I noted, “Midas stomped over to my armoire… and crushed an innocent tee from the top drawer in his fist.” And Edwards tries to continue supporting the anti-girly-girl trend by claiming Hadley is wearing a pair of bikini cut panties held together with a safety pin. wtf. I don’t think anything here really surprised me (plot-wise; I have to admit, the underwear surprised me), and I’m not expecting surprises out of the third book, honestly.
When looking at other reviews, I noted a couple that were confused about Hadley’s backstory, and why her ghostly sidekick Ambrose was such a problem. This was the entire plot of book two in the Necromancer series, How to Claim an Undead Soul, and continued in small bursts through the rest of the Necromancy series, so it’s not easy to say how well this would work if the reader hasn’t read at least that book. But the upside is that it doesn’t feel like there’s a great deal of backstory ‘filler’ here.
I really wish some of these writers would up their game, so I could read these books when there wasn’t a quarantine without rolling my eyes. This one would be a good candidate.