I read this first book of the series ages ago and enjoyed it, but didn’t go on to read the rest of the series at the time. Now I’m determined to read them all: it’s such a cool set-up, the retired police officer turned private detective who, by the way, has retinitis pigmentosa, meets a vampire romance novelist. They fight crime. I’m not even kidding: it’s supernatural crime, but nonetheless, that is essentially what Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy do. (And by the way, the detective is Vicki; the romance novelist is Henry.)
It’s a pretty light read, but the kind which comes gloriously without guilt for me. It’s free of homophobia (there’s a gay character, Tony); Vicki can handle herself and when she does need help, it’s not because she’s a woman; men and women can be friends; relationships can be complicated; the Alpha-Hole character’s chauvinism is called out, etc, etc. I feel like I can always rely on Tanya Huff’s work for something which includes people like me, while also delivering an absorbing story. (And the occasional giggle, e.g. when excerpts of Henry’s novels are included.)
The story itself is more or less secondary to the characters, for me: in this book, Vicki Nelson finds herself facing a young man who summons demons to get everything he wants, not knowing that he is also being used by them. The important part is not so much the mystery, but the way it brings the characters together. And while Henry Fitzroy is fiercely attractive, he’s also frightening, and we see that side of him as well. No sparkly or idealised vampires here.
Solid and entertaining; it almost deserves to get four stars, even just because I’m comparing it to M.C. Beaton’s Snobbery With Violence, which I gave three stars. This is definitely a better book, in terms of both the plot and the execution. Still, at least in this first book, I haven’t tipped over into adoring the book and the characters yet.