by Terrance V. Mc Arthur
Seemed like a perfect start to the month of Halloween to review a vampire novel! At the end of this review is a chance to win a copy of Crossroads!
What would a vampire give up to be human again? Anna Strong faces that question in Jeanne C. Stein’s Crossroads. Anna has only been a vampire for a year, but the bounty hunter is the Chosen One, trying to control the evil vampires who would turn mankind into walking blood vending machines.
Anna is not a sleep-all-day-in-the-coffin type of vampire; no, she loves to tromp around in the daylight and to sit in the sun, which makes her feel warm. The only things that actually make her warm are blood and sex.
Anna’s mentor, a vampire/former police chief, has been killed, and a detective wants to know why the DNA from the remains is 200 years old.
I know, you can’t tell age by DNA, but a medical test that was announced this year in Europe might be able to narrow it down to a 10-year range…and this is a book with vampires, so the reality level wasn’t that high in the first place.
Anna’s business partner just found out that while he was kidnapped, the police chief’s vampire wife drugged him and he had sex with her and a set of twins, at least, so he needs to be tested for diseases. Her ex-lover in the DEA needs her help to stop a vampire smuggling illegal aliens most of the way across the border…and draining them of blood. Chael, a very evil vampire, is tempting her with the promise of mortality through the power of a Navajo shaman who can bring the dead back to life, so she heads for the rez (reservation) with Daniel Frey, a shapeshifter with a part-Navajo son.
Navajo territory is a different world with a culture alien to Anna’s world (I love how it seems that every nightstand in every bedroom has a copy of a Tony Hillerman paperback on it), and she faces the added challenge of the Navajos’ fear and the revulsion they have for the dead. In her search for the shaman, Anna uncovers fake artifacts, skinwalkers, distrusting reservation cops, witches, tourists, accidents, and murder.
The canyons of the Southwest create a mystic background for the action, and the Navajo elements are treated with respect. There are oodles of action, some sexual elements (“hosts” who trade sex and/or blood for money…and that includes vampires who provide these services, too), and it’s easy to get caught up on the series without too much trouble.
Anna’s conflict with the vampire promising release from immortality, for his own selfish reasons, the Yoda-like wisdom of the medicine man, and the otherness of the native lands combine to make a lively mixture for the reader. If you’re looking for an action-paranormal-cozy mystery, this is a good choice.
To enter to win a copy of Crossroads, simply email KRL at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Crossroads”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 1, 2011. U.S. residents only.