2010’s Kitty Goes to War is the eighth book in Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series.
Having survived an amateur remake of The Most Dangerous Game1, Kitty returns to Denver. Because life is like that, she finds herself wrestling with not just one but two crises.
Minor issue first: offended at a caller’s suggestion that something weird and supernatural is up with Speedy Mart, the chain’s owner, Harold Franklin, sues Kitty for libel. Nuisance suits are one of the costs of fame, but all the same, Kitty would prefer not to have to deal with one.
The serious issue: Kitty is called on by the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology to consult on a military matter. Determined to win the war in Afghanistan, visionary officer and closeted werewolf Captain Cameron Gordon decided to put his condition to good use. Recruiting elite volunteers, he transformed them all into werewolves, then set to work eliminating America’s enemies in Central Asia.
Gordon’s plan produced marvellous results until the day an artillery shell proved lycanthropic regeneration had limits. Without their commanding officer, the werewolves have gone seriously off-mission. Now they are confined in Fort Carson. The military wants to know if there is any way to rehabilitate the violent killers or if the best course of action would be to simply confine them for the rest of their lives.
Dominant werewolf Vanderman seems beyond rehabilitation. His two surviving colleagues Tyler and Walters might still be saved. If only the trio hadn’t already escaped from Fort Carson by the time Kitty arrived.…
Harold Franklin adds to the excitement with his itch for revenge. He is every inch the weather wizard that he was accused of being. The guy who called into Kitty’s show has been killed by lightning. Kitty may be next. A killer storm is on its way and Denver is in its sights.
Wow, the American war in Afghanistan! It’s been almost a decade since this book came out and presumably the conflict is long over. Do people even remember it now?
It’s all too common for the protagonist of long-running series to become more and more powerful. Crisis by crisis, new powers emerge. The author of this series has resisted the urge to dial up Kitty. She never becomes more inherently powerful, though she is learning to use her abilities more effectively. But in this book a supporting character undergoes a sudden power-up revealed at just the right moment to resolve a major crisis.
One wonders if a single failed experiment is enough to dissuade the US military from trying to weaponize werewolves and other such beings. After all, the unit was very successful until their leader’s sudden death. Maybe there’s a way to do it what will work … and if we don’t do it, the bad guys will2. And hey, even if all werewolf units eventually go dingo, those who pay the cost won’t be defense contractors or the officers in the Pentagon.
I’ve often commented that what I like about this series is that Kitty has kept her moral compass. Her werewolf powers are not a licence to kill anyone who inconveniences her. In this book, she stays the course. She doesn’t simply kill the rogue werewolves. She doesn’t send her pack off to kill Franklin. Too bad that the players on the other side have jettisoned their moral compasses.…
1: The Dangerous Games scenario plays out right down to the ending.
2: Lycanthropy is contagious. Gordon and his men may have left a legacy of pissed-off werewolf Taliban soldiers. If there’s one thing Afghanistan’s history teaches us, it is that badly thought out decisions there never come back to haunt great empires.