Body and Soul

Once a Wolf

Secret of the Wolf

To Catch a Wolf

Touch of the Wolf

Dark of the Moon
by Susan Krinard
(HQN, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-037377258-2
1926, New York City, or so we’re expected to believe.

Gwen Murphy, fearless girl reporter, has found a niche at the Sentinel newspaper "telling the stories of the forgotten men and women of New York"; those who don't know what it's like to make a fortune on Wall Street, drive the latest model sedan, or know where their next meal is coming from. Okay, that's sort of 1920s. And there are a few references to Tommy guns and backroom speakeasies. But that's about it for the Roaring Twenties setting.

When Gwen's not writing about the downtrodden, she's busy trying to vindicate her dead father's obsession that the city is home to a group of blood drinkers.

She goes alone (duh!) to the docks in Hell's Kitchen to meet an informant to discuss a recent series of suspicious murders in which the victims have been drained of blood, and is set upon by thugs, who knock her out and throw her in the river. Fortunately, retired vampire enforcer-in-hiding Dorian Black, is on hand to rescue her, and try to discourage her from continuing her investigation.

Dorian is living under the local vampire radar in an abandoned warehouse on the docks, a far cry from his former life as the right hand man of one of the most powerful vampires in Manhattan. However, he's there because he got tired of the killing he was required to do, and eventually ended up killing his boss to escape. He's aware of the local vampire politics, but plans to remain unaffiliated, so he tries to send Gwen on her way with a warning to forget about both him and the killings.

Needless to say, Gwen's not planning on either. She ends up dragging Dorian into various predicaments and sub-plots which, in order to save her life, require him to ally himself with one of the vampire clans still operating. Unfortunately, to save her life he ends up "turning" her without her knowledge.

For reasons unclear, Gwen Murphy, investigative reporter, never realizes that Dorian is a vampire, or that the "gang" he goes to work for is another vampire clan. Furthermore, she doesn't realize that he has "turned" her, even after she starts to exhibit all the classic symptoms. And when she does finally realize it, although she's angry initially, she quickly convinces herself that she's much better off as a vampire than as a human. Too bad the plot didn't give any perspective on why she might believe this.

The chemistry between Gwen and Dorian is less than compelling. Dorian spent most of his time trying to resist Gwen's charms for her own good; interesting, because Gwen never struck me as someone with any particular charms that needed resisting. As a matter of fact, it's hard to care about either of the main characters, and normally I would have given up on this book about halfway through.

Dark of the Moon is being marketed as a paranormal romance. It's certainly got a paranormal character set, it's more of an adventure than a romance- a sort of 1920s Dresden Files with a female lead.

--Jean Ward

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