tasteI was intrigued by one of Wen Spencer’s recent books, but when I realized that she had quite a number of previous books out I decided to go back and start with her first, Alien Taste.

The book is described as if it were a mystery/suspense novel along the lines of Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield novels – except that where Jane specializes in hiding people, Ukiah specializes in finding them. Take your clue from the title, though, it’s not.

Ukiah Oregon was discovered by a wolf researcher in a humane trap near Ukiah, Oregon (hence the name) and raised to adulthood by her and her partner. The detective they hire to find his parents discovers that Ukiah is an incredible tracker and brings him on to help with missing persons cases, eventually making him a partner.

But Ukiah is not actually a wolf boy. He’s actually a human/alien hybrid. The aliens were supposed to attack earth some 300 years ago, but his father, Prime, rebelled and crashed the invasion ship. For the last 300 years Hex, Prime’s ex-partner, and his father’s people have been in a secret war – in which Ukiah turns out to be a key player.

Alien Taste is not terrible, but it’s not great either. There’s a fair amount of smoke and mirrors whenever an explanation is called for. Yes, fiction calls for some suspension of disbelief, but if you’re going to explain the inexplicable the explanation should at least make plausible sense. Just making shit up doesn’t cut it.

But, this is Wen’s first book, so I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and try a few more.