In this second book of the Vicki Nelson series, ex-police officer Vicki gets a call from her friend Henry (vampire and romance novelist), asking her to help out some friends. The big friendly dog she meets at his apartment turns out to be a werewolf (much to Vicki's embarrassment, after she's been patting him and cuddling him, thinking he's just a lovable furry mutt, not someone who could instantly transform into a strapping young - unclothed - man). He and his sister have come to Henry for help because someone is murdering members of their family - a sharpshooter is picking them off when they are outside, alone, at night.
Vicki agrees to help, although she is aware of her limitations, as the progressive eye disease she is suffering from has rendered her night vision useless. She finally admits to her disease to Henry, who points out that his strengths complement her weaknesses (and secretly he's thrilled at the chance to get her all to himself, out in the country, for a while). Once at the farm where the werewolf pack lives, Vicky is inducted into an altogether different way of life, as the werewolves may look like humans in their human shape, but they have their own way of thinking and behaving that takes a little getting used to - including their disdain for clothing (it impedes quick shape changes).
I enjoyed this reread very much - I recall it as being one of my favorites, mainly because I found the werewolf characters to be delightfully refreshing and, at times, downright hilarious. Since this book was published, many other similar werewolf characters have emerged in other books, but these were among the first I'd read about that were not mindless, slavering beasts at the mercy of moon phases - nor are they fully human, even when they are in their human shape. They have their own culture and code that is often foreign and confusing to Vicky, and it is fully believable as described.
I was a bit disappointed when the culprit was revealed before Vicky was able to figure out who it was - the sudden shift to an open mystery took away the suspense for me and lessened the impact of the climactic scene. Still, I found this to be a highly enjoyable read. Vicky is an easy character to like, despite her failings, and Henry and her ex-partner Celluci make up an entertaining love triangle. The relationships from the first book continue to be developed as the series progresses, and I'm looking forward to the third book so I can continue revisiting these interesting characters.
Books in the Vicki Nelson series:
1. Blood Price
2. Blood Trail
3. Blood Lines
4. Blood Pact
5. Blood Debt
Blood Trail (#2 in the Vicki Nelson series) by Tanya Huff (DAW Books, 1992)
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Tez Says: "Vicki’s a wily, likable character, with a medical condition that makes her stand out from the archetypal urban fantasy heroines populating the genre with their sameness. But I much prefer homicide detective Mike Celluci to Henry, for the simple reason that Mike seems real to me – and not just for his Italian swears."
Books, Writing and Life: "I was impressed by the strong characters and excellent writing. Being a guy, I sometimes find it harder to relate to female characters, but with this series it was not an issue."