Chameleon
by R Casteel, contemporary (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-389-3


Chameleon is a romantic suspense with a science-fiction bent involving a formula that can turn people into chameleons, but this story is shockingly unexciting considering the premise.

FBI agent Khamiel Roche - the heroine - is trying to piece together the research of her late mother on some scientific formula that has so far resulted in a few invisible sheep. Aided even by a talking computer, Khamiel is not making much progress. Then people start dying and someone try to break into Khamiel's place to steal her mother's research data. This is where our hero Stanley Freeman steps in. Ordered by the President himself to protect Khamiel, he finds himself doing just that and more when it comes to Khamiel.

I find R Casteel's Chameleon too dry to be interesting. The problem with this story is the lack of details. The paragraphs in this story are short, many of them comprising only a single sentence, and there are very little showing going on here, just telling and more telling. As a result, I can never get into the characters' heads to understand their motivations or get some insight on their thoughts and feelings. Mr Casteel only let me know what these characters are doing. As a result, Khamiel and Stan have a romance that is perfunctory at best. One moment they want each other, then Stan doesn't want her - it's hot and cold and completely devoid of chemistry. For example, the characters can feel desire in one paragraph and then start talking about whether there is milk in the house in the next paragraph. I have no idea how they can go from wanting to shag to asking about milk in the blink of an eye but that is what happens, I suppose, when the author just tells me what the characters are doing or feeling in that particular moment without showing me what's going on inside his characters' heads to get them to feel that way.

There is also no variation in tone and pacing so the entire story is a flatline with no build-up in momentum. The scene where the characters look for milk in the house is written in the same manner (same sentence structures, same pace) as when somebody dies, as if these two scenes are of similar significance and urgency. There is no gradual transitions from scenes to scenes. There is no sense of the passing of time. The author is pretty much just reporting what is going in a particular scene, he may as well be preparing the minutes of a meeting.

Chameleon doesn't deliver the suspense or the romance where I'm concerned, so I'm afraid I have to say that it just doesn't do anything for me. I may as well be eating stale biscuits given the enjoyment I fail to derive from this stilted story.

Rating: 47


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