by Susan Sizemore, fantasy (2000)
Ace, $5.99, ISBN 0-441-00783-X

The first book in this new vampire series, The Hunt, never turned up in bookstores, but Partners, book two, is a pretty good stand alone novel. There are incidents in The Hunt that are alluded to, but these incidents don't play a major role in the plot.

If I do get some things wrong, bear with me. Like I said, I joined the fun only in book two. Charlotte "Char" McCairn is a vampire who has reached the rank of Enforcer. Being an Enforcer, she makes sure the vampire society is kept in control and don't expose themselves too much to the humans. In short, she's a peacekeeper with guns.

Char gets an assignment - she has to kill vampire hunter Jebel Haven who knows a bit too much about vampires for comfort. Char dithers, however, uncomfortable with this mission, and when a fellow vampire asks her to help find a missing rebel vampire, she accepts the request. Meanwhile, Jebel is asked to find a missing teenager.

Their paths have to collide in a Larger Plot involving a cult. And la-di-da, they find themselves attracted to each other too. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Partners doesn't plunge into the gore extravanganza of Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series, and Ms Sizemore's prose is a far cry from Christine Feehan's naive Carpathian romances. Unfortunately, while there are some genuinely funny sick humor (when Jebel referred to the teenage bloodsucking human vampire-wannabes that he cheerfully sprayed bullets on as "piece of s**t", for instance), the pace is agonizingly slow. Pages after pages after pages are spent on our main characters going from Point A to Point B to Point C and back to Point A again, punctuated by monotonous scenes of bickering from the evil cult members. The author never varies the pace - momentum is at a minimum, never gearing up until the last few chapters. By then, it's a bit too late.

I also get really irritated when all the characters in this novel tend to talk to themselves. Not the italicized mind train thing, but aloud. "Shall I go here?" Char would ask herself, actually pointing to the direction, for instance. It is one thing to talk to oneself after working alone for so long, but to do it again and again and actually talking and asking oneself questions aloud? It becomes really annoying after a while. Yes, yes, yes, I know you want to go there, so vamoose!

Still, Char and Jebel make interesting characters. I am looking forward to book three and the continual development of their tenuous relationship. It's just that Partners has some technical flaws that keep me from enjoying it fully.

Rating: 83

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