Jeanne C. Stein,
The Anna Strong Chronicles #3: The Watcher
(Ace, 2007)

Anna Strong's a bounty hunter. She's gotten a lot better at her job since a failed takedown and her erstwhile pickup turned her into a vampire. She just hasn't told her business partner David, her family or her boyfriend Max, the undercover DEA agent.

She is not alone, though. Culebre -- the shapeshifter who runs a bar in Besos de la Muerte, Mexico, for vampires -- is in need of a human blood donor. Seems that position is quite in demand -- the rush is about as good as crack cocaine.

Also, Chief Williams of the San Diego Police Department knows who she is. He's also one of the Watchers, an organization of supernaturals created with the goal of keeping peace with the humans.

As a matter of fact, Chief Williams is the one who orders Anna to disappear after she inadvertantly shows her vamp face to two terrified mortals. If that information gets around, the Revengers, the human nemesis of the Watchers, will be after her.

Anna's not just hiding, though. She's going after self-described wiccan Belinda Burke, who will set loose a demon in two days if she's not stopped. Oh, and Anna's also seeking Max, who's gone into hiding and is wanted by Foley, an FBI agent she suspects is crooked and is threatening her.

There's more -- trust me, and you'll keep reading with interest and perhaps a bit of confusion. Stein's done a good job developing Anna. She's gaining control of her vampire and she understands what she has to be -- and give up -- because of her blood drive. Her secondary characters are still paper tigers, but I have hopes to see more of them and gain more knowledge as the series goes on.

The plotting is good. For the most part, Stein has tied up the major problems put forth in this novel, but left enough unresolved issues to continue with in the next books.

The Watchers has one serious deficit. Just too much goes on for a 291-page book. Stein could have produced a juicy thriller with just one of her villains and really done some superior character development, too. Still, I am looking forward to the next book in this series.

review by
Becky Kyle

17 May 2008

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