Author: Susan Phelan
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Buy Link: Buy Blood Bytes Here!
Rating: You Want to Read
Reviewer: Nerine Dorman
It's New York City, way way in the future and many things have changed — like the legalization of sex for hire and the popularity of the undead in the world's oldest profession. Conversely, the unreliability of males, immortal or human, remains a constant, or at least that's what Detective Tess Monterey has deduced after a particularly painful breakup with her partner and secret lover.
While investigating an apparent sex slaying, the trail leads to Blood Bytes — the city's only online vampire agency, and its most sought-after supernatural stud, Devante Matiero. The last person to see the victim alive, Matiero quickly rises to the top of Tess' most wanted list — in more ways than one.
Tess wades through a series of suspects and clues, along with her own distracting desires, desperately trying to close the case while holding onto her new-found stay-away-from-love conviction. But as she is destined to discover, things are not always as they appear. And not all good intentions pave the road to hell — some actually overlay the way to heaven.
Reader Advisory: Contains light bondage scenes.
While I’m a fan of Phelan’s writing, I’m conflicted on this novel. As always, her characterization, dialogue and interaction is lovely but the novel fails for me on two fronts: its ending, which feels tacked on, as well as the editing, which could have been sharper, as I picked up on a few gremlins which must have slipped past the proofing stages. She could happily have dropped the epilogue without harming the tale in the least.
All in all, there is a very good premise lurking in this novel but a lot of the tension that could have built into a fantastic climax is diffused by too many viewpoint characters and also shifts in point of view, often in mid-scene, which threw me out of the reading a bit. There are times when I felt less would have been more, when the narrative is interrupted with bursts of exposition which could have been avoided with more of a “show, don’t tell” approach.
All things considered though, what made this novel for me was the interaction between some of the characters, especially the autopsy scene, which elicited a few dark giggles on my part. What I enjoyed, however, was the Bladerunner-esque setting, which didn’t leave me feeling that the novel was set too far ahead into an alien future. Her milieu is well-realized and would make a stunning setting for future novels. All in all, things could have been tighter, but this is still a fun read.