Better Off Undead
In this latest entry in the Bloodhound Files series, Jace Valchek is back in Seattle after her battles in Las Vegas in Killing Rocks. In this book the focus is much more on character development than on threats to end the world. I didn’t like this one quite as much as the previous book, but remain fascinated with the world the author has created, and continue to find Jace a tough, but likeable heroine.
As the book begins, Jace visits old nemesis Tair in prison. Tair occupies the body of Dr. Pete, a man Jace had feelings for when she was first taken to this parallel world – or Thropirelem – as Jace thinks of it. Humans make up only one percent of this world, while golems, vampires, and lycanthropes make up the rest.
Jace believes she’s found a way, through magic, to get Dr. Pete back, but Tair has to agree to the process. Tair sets up a condition: Jace has to do a favor for him involving a werewolf mafia don. Seems simple enough, but things go very wrong along the way. Soon Jace is facing the possibility that she may become a werewolf herself (not a spoiler as it’s on the back blurb).
I found Jace’s personal struggles over the possibility of becoming a shapeshifter, and the alternative treatments that are suggested to her fascinating. I also enjoyed the changes in her relationships with various friends and colleagues at the National Security Agency. For me, these features overshadowed the case with which she’s involved.
The strength of this book was in the emphasis on Jace settling into her new world and developing stronger relationships with many of her co-workers and acquaintances. The author also builds on the world and adds some fascinating back history to some of the secondary characters. Jace’s relationship with her boss and her introduction to some of the humans in this world were particularly interesting, and I continue to enjoy Jace’s interactions with her golem partner Charlie.
After so much focus in the previous book about Jace’s efforts to locate the shaman who brought her to this alternate world, I found it a bit disconcerting that nothing really happened with that story in this book.
I should caution that there is not a lot of catching up or explanations about the world in this one and would not recommend starting the series with this book.
In my review of the last entry in this series, I cautioned that there was absolutely no romance. Well that’s changed in several unexpected ways. As with many paranormal and urban fantasies, nothing is settled at the end of this one. Will she have more interactions with humans? Will she go back to looking for the shaman? And how will her interactions with her boss and Tair evolve? I’ll definitely pick up the next entry to see what happens with Jace and the rest of the crew.