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on 28 January 2008
Marjorie M. Liu's 'The Last Twilight' is the 7th instalment in her successful Dirk & Steele paranormal series. This book covers the story of Doctor Rikki Kinn - a virus hunter in the Congo - and Amiri, a shapeshifter sent to protect her as she investigates the outbreak of a new and virulent plague.

Working in a camp where everyone is dead is bad enough but things go from bad to worse when mercenaries descend on the camp to kidnap Rikki.
Rikki and Amiri escape into the jungle; discover the plague may not be what they'd first thought and then get captured by the Consortium, an organisation dedicated to preying on anyone who can further their evil agenda.

This is an excellent addition to the Dirk & Steele series. Liu ratchets up the tension chapter by chapter, right up to the showdown at the end. The tension draws you along, making it a difficult to put the book down as you know that any happy ending will not be easily achieved, and you want to read 'just one more chapter' to find out what happens next.

Rikki's character is a compelling mix of strength and fragility as she tries to deal with events around her. Her determination to keep going really comes through in Liu's vivid descriptions, and I found myself rooting for her bravado in the face of overwhelming opposition.

I also enjoyed learning more of Amiri's past - before he joined the Dirk & Steele agency - as it gave more insight into the basis for his contained character and highlighted the struggle he went through in opening up to Rikki. The relationship between Amiri and Rikki was immensely satisfying. Two lost souls, neither as broken as they think they are, each refusing to give up on the other even when the odds seem so far against them that they can't possibly win free.

The individual storyline is resolved, but there are enough threads left hanging in the series' story arc to be carried forward to the next novel, so readers will have a satisfying conclusion as well as being left with teasing thoughts as to what will happen next - and to whom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal/ shapeshifter romances where good triumphs after a hard won battle and love wins out in the end. If you haven't read any of the Dirk & Steele books I would recommend starting with the first - 'Tiger Eye' - and working your way through the series. It's well worth it!
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Dr Rikki Kinn is one of the best virus hunters in the world; her work for the Centre of Disease Control (CDC) landing her in some volatile and extremely violent situations (she certainly has the scars to prove it). When a Level Four is issued Rikki finds herself quickly transported to the Hot Zone in Africa, narrowly missing capture by a group of mercenaries. Yet nothing prepares her for what she finds deep in the Congo; a virus more virulent and certainly more deadly than the Ebola outbreak she anticipated.

With someone asking favours from the highly unusual Dirk and Steele agency, Amiri; the shape shifting cheetah rescued in book two "Shadow Touch" finds himself returning to Africa for the first time since his captivity. Charged with protecting a certain doctor, he and other talented agents are soon embroiled in keeping Rikki safe.

On the run again when her camp is attacked by yet more mercenaries, Rikki soon learns of the unusual abilities of her new protectors; however as she is no slouch when it comes to defending herself she certainly doesn't sit back and rely on the paranormal talents of her escorts. Believing herself hunted for the knowledge she carries, it some becomes apparent that the Consortium itself is not only very interested in Rikki, but also responsible for the viral outbreak; an event they will take any action necessary to keep hidden.

Amiri's history is greatly expanded on in "The Last Twilight" and several familiar (though not necessarily friendly) faces make an appearance; including Rictor, Broker and very briefly Elena and Artur to name a few. The plot line is almost continuous action packed, tension filled drama as Rikki and Amiri face off numerous threats from a variety of enemies, whilst evading capture and uncovering deadly secrets. Book seven of the "Dirk & Steele" world is definitely a worthy additional to MML's highly recommended paranormal romance series and I now look forward to the release of book 8 "The Wild Road" in August 08. Although not much is currently known of this book the following interesting snippet is available on MML's website;

"Lannes is one of a dying race born to protect mankind. And while most see a beautiful man, this illusion is nothing but a prison. But when he finds a woman covered in blood, with no memory or past, he will be drawn into a mystery that makes him question all he knows."
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on 29 February 2008
This book is part of the Dirk & Steele series by Marjorie M Liu about a detective agency staffed by shapeshifters. In this story, Amiri the shapeshifter cheetah is sent to Congo to protect a doctor, Rikki Kinn. Rikki is one fo the world's best virus hunters and has rushed to a scene that is apparently an ebola attack. However, once there Rikki realises there is something else going on and when she is rescued by Amiri and his colleague Eddie it starts a game of hide-and-seek though the jungle of Congo. Their enemies are varied and they have to contend with injury, memories and fear of contamination from the mystery virus.

The plot in this book is quite complex with several 'baddies', some of whom turn out not to be baddies at all. The cast of characters is fairly wide, including several different shapeshifters, but it was always possible to keep track of who was what. The highlight of the book for me was the setting in Congo and the complexity of the plot as Rikki tries to find out why so many people want to capture her. It was a good read but perhaps a little overcomplex in places for comfortable reading.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2008
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on 23 October 2014
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