Tanya Huff,
Blood Trail
(DAW, 1992)

Tanya Huff continues the adventures of feisty Toronto-based private investigator Vicki Nelson and her newfound vampire friend Henry Fitzroy in Blood Trail, the second title in the quintet.

When Henry calls Vicki to ask her to help his friends with a case, you could say her career is going to the dogs -- if it were a laughing matter. But Henry's friends, the Heerkens family, have a serious problem -- they're werewolves, and a sniper has killed two members of their family while in fur-form. Naturally, this makes it difficult to call in the authorities. Who else can they turn to except someone who understands what it is like to be outside human society?

Henry calls in Vicki because he can only work on the case at night; Vicki's night vision has all but disintegrated due to retinitis pigmentosa, so she is limited to working in daylight. Together, they travel to the Heerkens' farm near London, Ontario, and Vicki sets to work, determined to find the killer before there is another death.

Meanwhile, Mike Celluci, Vicki's former partner on the police force and off-and-on lover, decides he's had enough of Henry's mysterious behavior and background. He drives to London to confront Vicki but is quickly drawn into the case as well.

The pace is rapid and engrossing, and Huff draws out the suspense by allowing the reader to find out who is responsible for the killings about halfway through the book. She doesn't make it easy for her characters to solve the mystery, though, leaving the reader to hang on, squirming, as the events play out. She adds a fair dose of humor to leaven the mood as well, recognizing that life is rarely relentlessly grim, but the book never gets silly or self-conscious.

Vicki's character continues to develop and the reader gets more insight into Celluci's personality as well; it's easier to understand Vicki's attraction to him. The werewolves' characterization is striking in that Huff has crafted it meticulously; they are consistent in the structure of their behavior. Huff blends the elements of human and wolf socialization seamlessly, and the characters seem to bound out of the pages. Henry's character seems to experience the least growth overall -- but he's a vampire. With them, things take time.

Huff's take on werewolf and vampire lore is suspenseful, witty and just plain fun. Blood Trail won't leave you barking up the wrong tree.

review by
Donna Scanlon


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