Wednesday, September 10, 2008

“Bitten to Death” by Jennifer Rardin

FROM THE BOOKCOVER:
Jaz Parks here. My latest mission has taken me to the ancient Greek city of Patras; but instead of soaking up its splendor, I'm here to infiltrate a Vampere Trust. Only two vamps have ever escaped the tightly bound communities and lived to tell the tale: Edward "The Raptor"Samos, the most reviled criminal mastermind in recent memory, and Vayl, the CIA's number one assassin who also happens to be my boss.

The Raptor is trying to take over Vayl's former Trust. Unfortunately the Trust's new leader has her own plans.

This job is going to be the death of me.
Bitten to Death is the fourth book in the Jaz Parks series after Once Bitten, Twice Shy [2007]. Another One Bites the Dust [2007] and Biting the Bullet [2008]. For those unfamiliar with the series, it is set in a contemporary alternate universe where vamps, werewolves and other creepy crawlies exist, but are unknown to the general public. The government, however is fully aware, and has established special squads to deal with the baddest of the bad. In the first volume we are introduced to this special CIA team -
I’m Jaz Parks. My boss is Vayl, born in Romania in 1744. Died there too, at the hand of his vampire wife, Liliana. But that’s ancient history. For the moment Vayl works for the C.I.A. doing what he does best—assassination. And I help. You could say I’m an Assistant Assassin.
Jaz herself is human, but more so. She has died twice and been reborn courtesy of higher powers and her spirit guide. She has shared blood with Vayl and is his avhar, connected by a rare mystical vampire bond. Her only edge is heightened perceptions and awareness of supernatural creatures.

Each novel is a high octane action/thriller with a dash of romance. Over the course of the series Jaz and Vayl have accumulated their equivalent of the A-Team or Scooby Gang consisting of Cassandra (a thousand year-old seer), Cole (ex Private Eye and crushing on Jaz), Cam (quirky genius and Q for the group) and David (Jaz’s brother and military special ops).

Ms. Rardin has drawn from familiar spy and paranormal sources and created a blend that is fresh and uniquely her own. In Bitten to Death, their mission leads them towards a final takedown of their arch-nemesis The Raptor. The secondary characters play much smaller roles this time around, with the exception of David, so Jaz and Vayl see lots of action.

The former head of Vayl’s old Trust (a territorial vampire collective) has requested their help to stop the Raptor’s takeover of the Trust and thus presents an ideal opportunity to finally eliminate him. On arrival, they discover the former leader is dead and a rival within the Trust has assumed control. It just happens to be the only vampire Vayl has ever sired and she has her own nefarious agenda. Although physically the Trust is only a group of vampires and a collection of buildings in a private compound, it manifests a powerful psychic component absorbed from the long history of its’ vampire membership. It too has its own agenda.

Bitten to Death delivers plenty of action, but also gives us an excellent mystery story in the secrets of the Trust. Jaz is still reeling from all the hits her life has taken to this juncture but nevertheless seems confident and in control to a new degree. Vayl and Jaz’s romantic relationship continues with its ups and downs but shows promise of new progress.

This paranormal action/thriller series is top notch entertainment and consistently delivers strong stories with a touch of humour, excellent world-building and engaging characters. Not to be missed. I leave you with a final relevant quote from Jaz –
I glanced at Vayl. He gave me a nod and the slight lift of his lips that passed for a smile. Warped souls that we are, we kinda love it when our odds dip. Because that’s when the real fun begins.
One More Bite, the fifth book in the series is out in January 2009 and Ms. Rardin has just announced on her website that she has signed with Orbit for three more Jaz Park novels. Wowza!

Read an excerpt here.

3 comments:

  1. I just read the first of this series and am looking forward to the others! This just whets my appetite more.

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  2. Hadn't heard about the three new novels, so I'm now officially thrilled! :)

    I also have much love for the Scoobies, but I kind of think Vayl and Jaz really did need a book for themselves, to work out those issues and tension.

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  3. It was a nice change of pace and I bet the whole gang is together for the next one.

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