“Draw Dead”. Book five of the Aces High, Joker’s Wild queer cyberpunk adventure series knocks it right out of the park. What unfolds is a story that—as sensationalist media might say—is ripped from today’s headlines. As we readers pass the one-year mark of the Covid-19 pandemic, we find Aidan Headley and his team also fighting for their lives against their most deadly enemy yet—a baffling illness that’s rapidly reaching pandemic proportions.
Every member of the Wild Cards family is needed to battle this deadly enemy: From the smallest child to the eldest person, everyone must work together. That includes the new guy who, as he settles in, manages to get Janice smitten, while opening a rift between himself and everyone else that he might not be able to close.
Will their combined forces be enough to win the fight for everyone’s lives in this tension-filled adventure, with a sideline of kickass high-tech horticulture? (Bet you didn’t see that coming.)
O.E. Tearmann has honed their storytelling skills over the course of this series, and it really shows in book five. The plot structure and pacing are spot-on, while character development and interactions are over the top and very brave. As for the story itself, just wow. As events unfold, you’ll probably be staying up past your bedtime to see what happens next. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a highly satisfying conclusion.
A small encouragement: If you haven’t yet read the first four novels in the Aces High, Joker’s Wild series, I strongly encourage you to do so. While “Draw Dead” stands well on its own merit, you’ll be missing out on previous adventures, but more importantly, human backstories that show why the Wild Cards are such a fiercely tight-knit family.
Thank you to author O.E. Tearmann, StoryOrigin, and Amphibian Press for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.