I got this as an audiobook as a cure for some of the drier nonfiction I’ve been listening to. It’s about what you’d expect of an urban fantasy. The protagonist is a vampire private investigator soccer mom named Samantha Moon. She’s asked to investigate the attempted murder of a man who’s a criminal defense attorney (and also a werewolf.)
Since I write urban fantasy, I have a thick filter for others’ work in this genre. Some aspects didn’t please me at all. Samantha goes on and on about how difficult it is to live as a vampire, but she’s able to walk in the sun! She can drink blood from a butcher shop! There are real humans alive today whose disabilities are far beyond what Samantha Moon whinges about. She worries about providing a good home for her kids now that she’s a vampire, but honestly, her lifestyle is less abnormal than someone who works nights. Her diet is less onerous than that of some people I’ve met. (The blood doesn’t have to be kosher or halal or locally sourced or certified organic.)
The mystery is competently done, but it’s not really central to the book so much as a vehicle for exploring Samantha’s vampirism and her relationship to it. That’s actually fine by me. Part of what I like about mysteries is the way in which the familiar path of the plot leads you along so easily that the reader can relax and admire the scenery. In this book, the scenery is her crumbling marriage and her vampirism. While I found her marital struggles interesting, the vampire part kind of bored me because I’ve read so many vampire books that nothing is really new to me anymore. Yes, yes, she’s powerful and hungry. Been there, done that. Tell me more about her relationship with her sister. I’m at the point where I want vampirism to be just a small aspect of her character, not the totality of it. It’s like when I read a mid-century novel and the author feels the need to explain to me drug terms, like “cold turkey” and “the works.” Or if a Regency author set aside a paragraph or two to explain what Vauxhall was and why they all had to get dressed up to go there. I know these things, and don’t need to have them explained.
Of course, I also know that I may not be the target audience. Some of the fantasy elements were clearly of the wish-fulfillment variety. Samantha can beat up professional boxers. Samantha kicks the shit out of bad guys (It’s okay if they die, because they’re gangbangers.) Samantha runs across and wins the heart of hunky men. Samantha is given mysterious jewelry by sexy strangers. I found the way she caved in to her husband to be implausible (given how blase she was about demonstrating her vampirism elsewhere, such as in the street and in the boxing studio, it didn’t make sense that she was so afraid of being outed that she’d cave in to heinous blackmail), but it didn’t ruin it for me.
This is all great popcorn stuff. It’s easy and fun, and while it’s not likely to make anyone’s top ten list, it’s good enough that if you want a reliable beach-read, this might be your series.
I got this book on audible, and the narrator did an excellent job. I didn’t cringe at the voices at all. Samantha sounds sultry, and everyone else sounds different enough to be distinctive without being annoying.