Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blood Price

Vicki Nelson is a PI and former cop who happens upon a very strange and grisly scene on a subway platform. The event is only the beginning of a series of murders that is so bizarre and inexplicable that, even though she's never been one to believe in the supernatural, soon it seems to be the only possible explanation. Not that she'd ever let her former partner know that - he shouldn't be telling her information about the investigation as it is, and he still hasn't forgiven her for quitting her job on the police force - a job that nearly broke her heart to leave, even though she was certain it was her only real choice.

When Vicki is officially hired to investigate the killing by a victim's girlfriend, she stumbles across irrefutable evidence that the killings are fueled by a malevolent magic, and the killer strikes again and again, each death bringing the city of Toronto closer to the unleashing of an ancient, powerful creature. She teams up with writer Henry Fitzroy - even though she finds out he is a vampire, she is certain he is on her side. After all, if he weren't, she wouldn't feel such a strong attraction to him...would she? As their research leads them closer to uncovering the source of the killings, it seems they are always one step behind the killer.

This is one of the first books published in what has since become an immensely popular urban dark fantasy genre. I read this years ago, when it first came out, and enjoyed it immensely. Reading Tanya Huff's short story in a recent urban fantasy anthology reminded me how very much I enjoy her books, so I thought I'd revisit them. I'm glad to say this first one in the Vicki Nelson series held up very well. Even though I read this seventeen(!) years ago, I remembered quite a lot about the characters and their relationships with each other. It was surprising to me that, aside from the lack of cell phones and the Internet, the book did not seem dated at all.

Vicki is a strong heroine with serious problems of her own, an engaging character that it was easy to root for. Her back story is seamlessly woven into the present mystery along with flashbacks from Henry's life, which gives depth to the characters and makes their motives and actions believable. This series has been made into a television show, and there is also a spin-off trilogy featuring Tony Foster, a character who is introduced in this book. This is a must-read for those who enjoy urban fantasy, not just because it is one of the first of its kind, but because it is a well-written, action-packed story with compelling, memorable characters.

Books in the Vicki Nelson series:
1. Blood Price
2. Blood Trail
3. Blood Lines
4. Blood Pact
5. Blood Debt

Blood Price (#1 in the Vicki Nelson series) by Tanya Huff (DAW Books, 1991)

Also reviewed at:
BC Books: "Blood Price is a great book. You get such a feel for the characters, especially Vicki, and each one comes across solid and three dimensional."
Savvy Verse and Wit: "The dialogue and interactions between Vicky and Henry are hilarious and had me laughing for much of the book's latter half."
Tez Says: "Neither bad nor amazing, the novel has an important role in the history of urban fantasy in fiction. It was around this time that the genre was revived through Tanya Huff, Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton, and readers – and writers – have a lot for which to thank them."

11 comments:

  1. I reread this earlier this year and had pretty much the same reaction. I also thought it held up very well, although I did notice the lack of cellphones too. Lovely review. Maybe I need to pull out Blood Trail and reread that one in 2009.

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  2. Now that's weird! I just picked up the first two books in his series myself! I haven't read them yet but I had to get them after watching the show Blood Ties (Henry was just so darn yummy!).

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  3. Sounds like an interesting series. Thanks for making me aware of it.

    Tony Peters
    Author of, Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping
    www.eloquentbooks.com/KidsonaCase.html

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  4. I liked this series a lot too. Which reminds me that I need to get the first books back from the friend I loaned them to almost two years ago.

    Not listed in your list is the spin-off three books on Henry and Tony set in Vancouver. Not sure of the order, but the books are Smoke and Shadows, Smoke and Ashes and Smoke and Mirrors (I think, anyway).

    The third book is not like the others, and the vivid imagery actually gave me nightmares. My fault for reading late at night, but I'd expected something slightly funnier than I got.

    Also not listed here is the Blood Bank anthology of the Viki short stories. Is it even available as one book? I have it as part of the third volume of the omnibus series that came out a few years back.

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  5. I've just finished watching the television series and really enjoyed it. Henry is indeed very yummy! Sounds like I should give the books a read too!

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  6. I have this out from the library to read at the moment. I had heard of them, but it wasn't until I read a short story that I decided to actually pick them up and read them.

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  7. I keep meaning to try Tanya Huff and haven't yet.

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  8. Where are the historical fiction reviews?!

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  9. Kerry - I'm glad you enjoyed your reread, too. I'm definitely planning on rereading the rest of the series this year, and then trying the spin-off one as well. Have you read that?

    Ladytink - I hadn't even heard of the show till I sat down to write this review. Netflix doesn't have it yet, but I'll put it on my list as soon as they get it!

    Thanks, Tony!

    Elena - I hadn't even realized there was that spin-off series till I was looking things up for my review. Interesting about the third one - I'm going to read them as soon as I finish rereading this series. I had no idea there was an anthology of Vicki stories. I will definitely have to look into that. Thanks for the tip!

    Mariel - Ack! Everyone knows about that series but me! I guess not having TV reception isn't the best way to stay in the loop. I Netflix everything but don't always know what's out there. I'm glad I have you all to keep me informed! :-)

    Marg - I'll be interested to hear what you think when you get to it!

    Liviania - I hope you get the chance to read her books soon. She has more classic fantasy stories too, as well as these urban paranormal series, and lots of interesting things in between. Great short stories, too. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    VA Gal - Ack! I'm so behind. I will get one up soon. And I expect happy comments when I do! :-)

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  10. I read this book not too long ago because I was watching the television show. I loved this series.

    Here's the link to my review:

    http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2007/10/sensual-and-sarcastic-vamps.html

    It's one of my first, so its kind of rough

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  11. Thanks for the link - I've added it to my post. :-) I enjoyed reading your review!

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