Review – Memory Zero (Spook Squad #1) by Keri Arthur

Memory Zero cover image

Publisher: Dell
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

For Sam Ryan, life began at the age of fourteen. She has no memory of her parents or her past. All she has is a crayon drawing of a woman with the word “Mommy” scrawled underneath in childish handwriting.

For the ten years Sam’s been with the State Police, she’s used their resources to search for any clues to her identity. But it’s as if all mention of her family has been deliberately wiped off the system, and no one seems to know why.

Everything changes the night she agrees to meet her missing partner, Jack, and barely survives his attempt to kill her. Charged with his murder and suspended from the force, Sam finds herself accepting help from Gabriel Stern–a shapeshifter with secrets of his own.

As Sam delves into her partner’s death, she discovers more than she ever bargained for. Because not only is her partner very much alive, but he’s involved in an organization that plans a war on the human race. Worse, someone knows the truth about Sam’s past, and it appears that they’d rather see her dead than have her uncover it.

The deeper she digs, the more the danger grows. It soon becomes clear that the key to surviving the present lies in unravelling the threads of her past–and in discovering not just who she is, but what she is…
This blurb came from the author’s website.

It has been several years since I read anything by Arthur but when I saw the blurb and how it hinted at a new spin on the paranormal I had to request it. I started reading the book and realized that I really couldn’t stop. I ended up being very glad I waited until after I ate dinner because I might have otherwise forgotten about my meal until it was cold and all dried out. When I finished reading I was so happy to see Arthur had regained her magic for me and that the next two would be out in quick succession. Then I found out it was a re-release and seriously started wondering how I managed to miss this trilogy the first time around.

Sam, was having a really bad day. Jack, her partner of 5 years who vanished several weeks ago called and asked her to meet him in a secluded area. He was the only person she was close to and the first of all the members of the State Police who were disappearing to make contact again. She was afraid something was seriously wrong because he had not contacted his wife and while he never quite played by the rules this was pushing things to an extreme. Then she discovered Jake was now a vampire trying to recruit her. When she refused he tried to kill her, some mysterious kite shaped thing chased her, a stranger rescued her and then vanished leaving Sam forced to kill Jake when he attacked again. If that wasn’t enough she was suspended from her job pending an investigation into the death of her partner when none of the evidence supported her side of the story.

I had a lot of fun with Sam. She was extremely stubborn and determined to find out not only why her former partner tried to kill her but why the circumstances of the attack and subsequent events made her think someone didn’t want the truth to come out. Growing up without any memories of her family in the state system left Sam alone and independent. Yet to the rare few she trusted she was fiercely loyal. Her loyalty made this particular situation even more challenging because she expected the same loyalty back and didn’t receive it. As a result, when Gabriel’s organization needed her cooperation they were forced to explain a lot more to her than they planned especially since she kept discovering anomalies and escaping assassination attempts.

Gabriel was a bit more of a mystery. He was a shifter full of secrets, more secrets than most shifters and seemed to make a living out of disobeying orders and acting alone. Yet, he had what seemed to be a soft spot or an immense amount of curiosity for Sam. I liked how he appeared to find Sam’s ability to get into and out of trouble not to mention “protective custody” amusing and worrisome at the same time. I thought his determination to discover Sam’s secrets while keeping his own amusing since it tripped him up a time or two. However, despite his habit of trying to keep secrets, bits and pieces of information kept slipping out which made me extremely curious about his family and their history.

Arthur’s world is rather complex and I am still trying to fit all of the pieces together but I think more will be revealed as this series continues. It seems to be paranormal futuristic setting with advanced weaponry and medical diagnosis populated by humans, vampires, different types of shifters, and apparently some rather undesirable nasty unknowns. Two of the supernatural groups have a long lasting feud, which seems to be gaining momentum and influence for the side with the undesirable unknowns assisted by some new technology. In addition to the factions, Arthur hints about the possibility of the military being indirectly involved.

I enjoyed reading Memory Zero although I did have a few niggles. I enjoyed Sam’s independence most of the time, but occasionally it seemed as if she was able to get out of things by having all the power and skills instead of being vulnerable. Yet, at other times, she did need to work in a team or with some assistance so she seemed a bit uneven as a character. I also wondered exactly how good Gabriel’s abilities were because sometimes he appeared to be oblivious to changes around him. The characterization glitches threw me a bit as I was thinking back over the story but I was so caught up while reading they really didn’t register. I am looking forward to reading the next installment.

I give Memory Zero a B+

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