Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the Odelia Grey Mysteries and the Ghost Granny Apples Mysteries also writes a paranormal mysteries. What better book to review on the eve of Halloween. So where on the scale of Vampire fiction does Ms. Jaffarian fall? Is this series Tanya Huff or Charlaine Harris, L.J. Smith or Stephanie Meyer?
Copyright: Sept 2010 (Midnight Ink) 336 pgs
Series: 1st in Madison Rose Vampire Mystery series
Sensuality: R rated in parts, kidnapping, assault, adult situations, some swearing
Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Mystery
Main Characters: Madison Rose, a twenty-three year old waitress
Setting: Modern day, Los Angeles
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
The story opens in the middle of Madison Rose having been kidnapped after her late night waitress shift. She is rescued from her abductor and finds herself waking up later in an older couple's home. She quickly puts together her memories from the night before and realizes this quirky couple happens to be vampires. They are only two of a Los Angeles community of vampires who are investigating a string of young women being abducted and drained of their blood. They believe Madison was an intended victim, but they still don't know who is behind the murders and why they are happening. The vampires are determined to find who is committing the crimes and pressure Madison to assist them by posing as bait. Not to worry, she will have a vampire back-up. What could go wrong?
Madison Rose has had a rough life, no family and experienced abuse while in the foster care system. She is attempting to make a life for herself as a struggling waitress going to college at night. She has learned to be tough, so she keeps her softer side hidden. Doug and Dodie Deadham, the elderly vampire couple who save Madison appear to be perfect grandparents... if it weren't for the refrigerated blood. LAPD Detective Michael Notchey is a live person who is also indebted to the Deadham's. He helps to keep the Vampire and human worlds in their respective realms. The Vampire Council of California has several members on the Board: Powerful Samuel La Croix is the Chairman of the council, Stacie Neroni is the Vampire attorney, Colin Reddy is the Vampire Don Juan with a few others sprinkled in too.
As part of the investigation, the lurid side of vampire clubbing and vampire wanna-be groups is dived into. This has some disturbing elements of humans who fantasize and romanticize vampires so much that lancing a person and drinking the blood is considered erotic. This dark world is portrayed with a scary side. Just enough detail is provided without being dark and gross. The irony is Madison has been brutalized growing up in the foster-care system and maybe in dire danger by these human pretenders while she is moving among actual vampires who are trying really hard to live like humans and not animals they can easily revert to. Other than the vampire club world, the world of Vampires and their self-governing culture is portrayed realistically. I found the characters to be well developed, flawed, and interesting. No sparkly or even highly romanticized vampires here. They are good and bad with real vices and baggage.
The general idea is sound for the murders of these girls in a world where vampires exist secretly. The investigation is believable for the story. The pacing had me flipping pages, so good job there. The killer reveal was tense and the subsequent fall out is sobering. The wrap-up changed Madison's life and was heart-warming.
For me personally, I found this superior to the Sookie Stackhouse books. The character Madison Rose far and away spoke to me more and seemed more intelligent and savvy. The world of the Vampires with the council and their own justice system is a developed idea executed well. I really like the murder and investigation, which was the primary focus. This is definitely an adult series that I found more satisfying than Sookie Stackhouse because of the murder investigation aspects. I think fans of Tanya Huff's Blood books and Charlaine Harris' True Blood/Stackhouse books will find a kindred spirit in this series.
Rating: Near Perfect if you enjoy gritty vampire fiction - buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.
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