Gregory Lamberson’s noir upgrade to the classic werewolf tale, The Frenzy Way (book 1), burned with action and adventure, enticing characters, and an intelligent bent on the history of lycanthropes. There was only a two year lapse until the release of its sequel, The Frenzy War (book 2), but it felt like several years passed as I waited to reunite with the story’s protagonist and hero Tony Mace. The NYPD Homicide Captain turned paper pusher of the K9 unit was the hero and star of the first book, but there are a number of interesting secondary characters to beef up the mythos of The Frenzy Cycle Series in this sequel.
Initially, I was a bit disappointed there wasn’t more Mace since this story has a longer set-up and slower build that often doesn’t feature our crime fighting savior. Lamberson takes time to reacquaint the reader with old characters and introduces new ones. He also gives significant attention to important background details that tie the story together without being redundant. So while I found myself pining for Mace a few times in the beginning of the book, the time Lamberson spent laying the groundwork for the rest of the story (including reestablishing crucial plot points from the first book readers may not remember) and fleshing out secondary characters was essential to the overall plot and appreciated. In fact, Mace is on an even ground with the other players this round. Of course, as expected by fans of the series, Mace is an integral part of the plot and its outcome, but there were a number of engaging side arcs that were just as, if not more, interesting at times.
Homicide detective Willy Diega returns with a new partner Karol Williams and their relationship takes on a noteworthy role in the story. Even though Detective Williams is new, I hope she’ll be back for the next installment. Williams is one of many powerful women up against evil forces in The Frenzy War. Rhonda, a young teenage girl whose abduction triggers the events of this tale, is another badass femme that would be a welcomed return. Cheryl Mace gets more facetime in the sequel too, proving that Tony isn’t the only hero in the family. There are many cogs in the wheel that keep this tale rolling. Perhaps this was the case with the first book as well, but the significance of the non-Mace elements was more palpable this time around.
Although the first half moves a little slower than the second half once you get to that midway point the action doesn’t let up. There were plenty of knock-down drag-out fights featured in The Frenzy Way, but Lamberson gets nastier with his humans against wolves/humans against humans battle in The Frenzy War. Besides a number of showdowns with the good ole silver Blade of Salvation, there are explosions, horrible mutilations, and torture. You have cruel werewolves and humans alike that feel no sympathy for one another. In one scene a wolf “sank the fingers of her front claw into the glistening red wound around the woman’s collarbone, then jerked them down, tearing flesh and fabric all the way to the woman’s stomach…” In another an unfortunate victim “felt long teeth tear his throat open, and hot blood scalded his esophagus. As he struggled to force the bitch off him, her front claws dug into his check and her hind legs shredded his thighs. Then he felt a long tongue flicking against his own tongue, deep inside his throat, which triggered a gag reflex.” The lucky ones are mercifully killed while others suffer through gruesome disfigurement.
For anyone who has read The Frenzy Way, picking up its sequel, The Frenzy War, is a no-brainer. Lamberson is hitting his stride with this entry. That is not to say he was stumbling his way through the first book by any means, but the series definitely takes root in the sequel and is shaping up for, what I hope is, a longstanding succession of books. You can pick up a copy of the second book in The Frenzy Cycle from Medallion Press here and if you haven’t read the first entry pick that up here.
Also, be sure to check out Gregory Lamberson’s other horror/action crime series The Jake Helman Files, also out from Medallion Press.
Keep up with everything Lamberson at his website Slimeguy and his live journal.