Title: Cronin’s Key
Author Name: N.R. Walker
Publication Date & Length: March 13, 2015
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.
Detective Alec MacAiden of the NYPD has had a few miraculous near-death escapes in his time. But it isn’t until he watches a dying man turn to dust in front of him that learns of the forces protecting him.
Alec is The Key to the survival of the vampire race, and he is also the fated mate of Cronin, one of the vampire elders.
Alec is taken into protective custody before he learns of his destiny, and must spend therest of the story working with his new vampire friends to protect himself, his father and the entire vampire race from a crazy, evil Egyptian vampire.
This book starts fast and then speeds up. Walker’s world building is done at a frantic pace. I had to flip back and re-check in a few places. These vampires exist in a very conventional urban fantasy narrative. While well written and well developed, there isn’t much to distinguish Walker’s vampire world from others in the genre.
I really like the characterisation in this story. Alec and Cronin are well drawn, likeable and believable. Supporting characters like Eiji and Jodis add a quirky charm to the story.
This is an action-packed urban fantasy story. There is some romance and a little sex, but for most of the book, the focus remains on the action. Walker has left room for sequels and it will be interesting to see how her characters and the ongoing story develops.
Alec patted his belly, which was now full of pizza and coffee. Then he thought of something. “When was the last time you fed?”
“Two days ago.”
“Is that too long?”
“I will need to feed soon, but it’s bearable.”
“What is not bearable?” Alec asked. “I’m just curious. I guess I should know these things. I mean, is it uncomfortable for you to be near me right now?”
“Of course not.”
“Is it a hunger, or a thirst? Does your throat burn until you feed, or what?” Alec asked out of pure curiosity.
“It is a hunger,” Cronin answered. “Though not like a human hunger. It affects the whole body, not just the stomach. The whole body craves it.”
Alec considered this. “I can see that, I guess.”
Cronin gave a smile. “You talk of such matter with ease. Does it not bother you?”
“Not as much as I thought it would,” Alec said. “I try not to think about the human loss of it, to be honest. Kinda like how I try not to think about the pigs that die to give us the amazing thing that is bacon.” Alec stared out the kitchen window for a while, looking over the city as he thought about what he just said. “I’m not sure when I stopped caring for human life… I’m a cop, I shouldn’t…” he shook his head. “I don’t know when that changed.”
“When you changed,” Cronin said softly. “When you met me.”
“I changed when I met you?”
Cronin nodded. “As I did when I met you.”
Oh. Alec paused. “Is that part of the fated thing? We change?”
“Yes. Fundamental changes to our psyche, to adapt to the needs of our significant other.”
“But I’m still me,” Alec said quietly.
Cronin gave him a small smile. “You will always be you. You just adopt certain tolerances.”
“So, normally if something pissed me off with someone, like something they did—like snoring! If they snored—I ‘d hate it, but if you snored, I wouldn’t care.”
“I don’t snore.”
“That wasn’t my point.”
Cronin chuckled. “Your point was correct, yes.”
“So what pisses you off in other people, but not in me?”
Cronin thought for a moment. “I don’t like being interrupted when I’m talking. It is frustrat-”
“Like that?” Alec said with a smile. “Like me interrupting you like that?”
Cronin huffed. “Yes, like that.”
Alec snorted. “But it still annoyed you.”
“It’s a work in progress.” Cronin let out a half-laugh, half-sigh. “It frustrates me far less with you than someone else, believe me.”
“Then I shall try my very hardest not to interrupt you ever again,” Alec said, with a smirk and flick of his eyebrow which meant he shall try his very hardest to interrupt Cronin every chance he got.
Cronin sighed. “I also find sarcasm rather tiresome.”
“Excellent.” Alec laughed and finished his breakfast and made himself another coffee.
Alec leaned against the kitchen counter with his second cup of coffee in his hand, and it was as though Cronin was waiting for him. He cleared his throat. “So, given the events of yesterday, I wondered whether you wished to continue our date? Considering it was cut short.”
Alec hid his slow-spreading smile behind his coffee cup. “I would love to, but I thought research might be in order, given the events of yesterday.”
“Research of what?”
Alec was stunned. Research of what? “Uh, everything we learned yesterday, none of which makes sense.”
“Jodis and Eiji are seeking out information as we speak.”
“I thought you said they were eating out?”
Cronin smiled. “They are doing both. They’ve gone to Egypt-”
“They’ve what?” Alec cried, interrupting him. “By themselves?”
“They’re safe,” Cronin told him. “They’re verifying the information Bes gave us yesterday. Though we’ve no reason to doubt him, I wanted to be sure.”
“You asked them to go?”
“Yes. I took them.”
“I was only gone for one second. The apartment is well alarmed, and you were sound asleep.”
Alec put his cup down and ran his hands through his hair. “And?”
“And they are searching out any other information we might use.”
Alec sighed. “And what about me?”
Cronin blinked. “I don’t know what you mean. What about you?”
Alec took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I’m a detective. Figuring shit out is what I do. I research, I study, I figure shit out.”
“Alec, I cannot risk you being out there. Please understand, it’s not my wish to see you confined here, but until this risk is over-”
“I don’t need to leave here,” Alec replied. “As much as I’d like to.” He rolled his eyes. “But we have this thing now called the internet. I mean, it is only recent in your perspective of timelines, and I know you think Shakespeare is still classed as popular culture, but it is the twenty-first century.”
Cronin glared at him for just a moment. “I take back what I said before. I do believe that I detest sarcasm more than being interrupted.”
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.
She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.
She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since…