Dying Bites by D.D. Barant
(St. Martin's, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-312-94258-3
In her newest book, Dying Bites, D.D. Barant introduces Jace Valchek, an FBI profiler who specializes in serial killers and mentally imbalanced criminals. This book is the first of her newest series "The Bloodhound Files." and even though I wouldn't classify it as a romance (more of a paranormal mystery with a pinch of romance stirred in) it kept me enthralled from beginning to end; a difficult thing to do since I have the attention span of a puppy.

The book jumps into the action from the first page. Jace believes that she is in a tequila-induced dream where her boss from the FBI is transferring her to a new assignment in another world. Only too late does she realize she's not dreaming and that she's been moved to a parallel universe that has continents and countries that are the same as in they are in her world. The big difference: this world is inhabited by a mix of vampires, werewolves, and golems (which I've never before read about - surprising given the amount of paranormal romance I've read.) Being the original main source of food for the vampires, humans make up less than one percent of the world's population and they are slowly on the decline. This causes humans to form extremist groups that want to eliminate all other species, giving them control over this universe as well.

The NSA (National Security Association) consists of all races existing in Jace's new world and they need her help to catch a human sociopath that is killing vampires and werewolves. The head of the NSA, David Cassius, makes a deal with Jace: bring this human serial killer to justice, and she can return back to her world that is inhabited only by humans. Given little choice as she's stuck in this new world until Cassius returns her, Jace accepts the assignment. What she doesn't count on is the secrecy surrounding the case she is working on and the NSA's desire to withhold certain information from her that would put werewolves and vampires in a different light. She also has a problem sympathizing with the killer because they are both humans trying to survive in a world where everything is against them. Jace has to keep an open mind and look at all of the angles of the case in order to figure out what the killer's next move will be and if she really wants to stop him.

Being the first in the series, Barant does an excellent job introducing the reader to a whole new world where vampires make up the majority of the population and humans have to form terrorist groups to survive. She doesn't try to re-invent the way we know werewolves and vampires; she gives us a good picture of how these beings would live in our modern day society. She uses abbreviations that are easy to follow and humorous and doesn't try to make up a whole new dictionary of phrases the reader has to memorize in order to understand her books. Dying Bites is only around 300 pages but by keeping it shorter the story isn't bogged down with too many sub-plots to remember in order to enjoy the book.

Dying Bites is a quick and engrossing read. If you like alpha females, you'll most likely enjoy this book (generally I don't, but it was an exception.) If you also like suspense and solving crimes then this book will fulfill those needs right up until the interesting and exciting ending. I don't typically like series books that have the same narrator in every installment, but I find myself looking forward to reading the adventures that Jace will be participating in during the next book. The only complaint I have is that there wasn't much in the way of romance; hopefully in the next book of the series will further develop the relationship of Jace and David Cassius into a romantic one. I would even settle for a little hand holding or rides in the park with a chaperone present; I'll keep my fingers crossed. Dying Bites is a great start for what I hope will be a great new series by D.D. Barant.

--Joelle Kollasch

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