|Lee Killough: Blood Games|
Merlin Publishing (Trade Paperback), ISBN 1-892065-41-X
But this stultifying, if comfortable, undead life comes to an abrupt end when Garreth and Maggie give chase to a van carrying a very pale man and two young girls wanted in connection with a number of forgeries. Driving like a racing pro from hell, the pale man forces Garreth's car off the road. As Maggie and Garreth hover at the edge of death, the pale man and his companions loot Maggie's purse and gun. They also steal Maggie's and Garreth's blood.
You can't kill the undead in a car crash unless you destroy their central nervous system. But Garreth never "infected" Maggie with the vampire "retrovirus," and she dies of her injuries. To make matters worse, Garreth can't remember if his attackers actually drank his blood.
Are the man and his girls human or vampire? Could they represent a strange family of vampire and human slaves? And if they're still human, can Garreth reach them in time to prevent their transformation -- or mete out the true death needed to prevent them from bringing others across.
Garreth's desperate chase carries him across the country and back in time, forcing him to revisit his past and reassess the decisions that keep him mired in Baumen. Meanwhile, locked in pursuit of a suspect who stays exactly one step ahead of him, Garreth wonders exactly who or what he pursues. Could the pale man be the legendary albino vampire who served in Caligula's Praetorian Guards or merely a human imposter? And of the two, which will prove more dangerous in the final showdown -- man or superman?
That question lies at the heart of Killough's tale, and she offers no easy answers. Each of her central characters -- human and vampire -- displays a spark of greatness. The balance seems to weighted in the favor of older women, but that may reflect their role as nurturers and advisors to the forty-something Garreth, who searches for understanding with the same tenacity that he hunts for clues.
Blood Games offers a solid police procedural that never allows the fantastic elements to detract from its central mysteries. This proves both a great strength and weakness. The need to construct the details of Garreth's everyday life further slows a beginning already weighted with the hasty deaths and departures of several of Garreth's nearest and dearest. But keep reading. The pace picks up nicely once Garreth hits the highway in his shark-shaped Corvette, and the dear departed provide a wonderful spectral chorus to Garreth's journey of self-discovery and renewal.
Jean Marie Ward
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