Wednesday 6 January 2010

Blood Trail - Tanya Huff

Blood Trail is the second book concerning Vicki Nelson, private investigator, and Henry Fitzroy, vampire and illegitimate son of Henry VIII.

The novel opens with Vicki accepting an invitation to Henry's place to talk about a possible new case. We have moved on a few months since the first book, with the flirting and dating between Vicki and Henry ramping up a notch. The new case involves a pack of werewolves leaving near London, Canada, who are being picked off one by one by a rather talented marksman.

Again, the novel is a mixed bag. I love the relationship between Vicki and Mike, and the jealousy that both Mike and Henry feels about Vicki is real and rather touching. The brief sex scenes are well done and erotic.

Huff does incredibly well showing the great outdoors from the point of view of a city girl - in fact, in all her novels Huff is very good at describing the surroundings so that they take on a character of their own (Toronto in the first novel, and here the farm and surrounding lands that the pack lives in).

I liked the pack, and the fact that they were presented as very much other than human. These are not people who turn into wolves at the full moon and you cannot be changed into a werewolf, you are born so. Daniel/Shadow is absolutely adorable! The question of alpha males, and the tension between Stuart and Henry was excellently written. I found the twin bond a little more questionable, especially when it wandered down the path of possible incest. Sure, animals are different but this jarred me a little.

My problem with the pack was the sheer amount of them. These 'Blood' books are fairly slim volumes compared to other urban fantasies, and Huff still manages to pack loads in - here, it meant that most of the pack became merely names, rather than characters. This wasn't helped by the fact that each werewolf has a human name and then a fur-form name as well, so we were literally bombarded with new names.

I felt that the mystery was pretty clumsy here. The deliberate misdirection was ill-done, and Mark Williams felt as though he blundered into the wrong story - as though Huff had created her original villain, but then realised that it didn't fill enough pages so introduced the callous nephew.

I also had a problem here with the flashbacks to Henry's past AND the excerpts from the point of view of the shooter AND the main plot itself all had the same voice and tone, so it took longer than it should to get into the different segments. It didn't flow naturally.

My final point is that Vicki seemed almost sidelined (which I think is an additional problem from adding all those new characters in the pack). She didn't move on or grow as a character, which is a shame because I think her position is an interesting one. I also wondered at the fact that Vicki showed no moral dilemma about blood taking or vampires.

I did, on the other hand, find Mike's stance on bringing the killers to trial rather than going for personal vengeance a powerful one. It also highlighted effectively that Vicki had not really shared these thoughts - is this because Vicki has left the police force? Or does Mike have a more black and white view on the world? Regardless, it certainly made me think about the book past the time when I closed the last page, which is a good thing!

Definitely an average entry in the series, but still interesting enough to continue.

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