Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bitten to Death

This fourth installment of the action-packed Jaz Parks series sees Jaz traveling to the Greek town of Patras and learning a whole lot more about vampires - including details about her partner Vayl's mysterious past. Vayl had once been a member of the vampire Trust in Patros, although he left years earlier - something nearly unheard of in the vampire world. The only other vampire who has left a Trust is Edward Samos, the criminal mastermind Jaz and her team of CIA operatives have been trying unsuccessfully to terminate during the course of this series.

In Greece, Jaz and her small team of three must find a way to work with the highly suspicious, resentful, and (a few) apparently psychotic vampires in order to set a trap for Samos. Vayl's past relationship with the vampires has ramifications that Jaz does not at first comprehend. It is a political and social quagmire, complicated by wounded werewolves and cursed artifacts - not to mention the creepy visions in blood that begin to plague Jaz whenever anyone is wounded.

This series is up on my list of favorites these days, for several reasons. First of all, the characters are interesting and complicated, and their complexity stems directly from their past experiences, giving them solid motives for their actions. They grow and change from book to book as a result of the events they experience. Second, there are lots of surprises along the way. As the plot unfolds, I start to think I know where things are going, but invariably there is a twist in a new and surprising direction. Rardin is not afraid to take risks with characters, and she wraps up some major story arcs in this one, while still leaving plenty of intriguing questions and issues to explore in future novels.

Jaz is an engaging heroine, strong and smart, definitely tough, but not unbelievably so. She has her fears and vulnerabilities, and it is fascinating to see her work through (and around) them. One of my favorite things about her is that in times of stress she talks inside her head with her dead grandmother, who is always doing something entertaining, like playing poker with dead celebrities. During one tense moment when Jaz is about to die a fiery death and is wracking her brains for a way to save herself:
Well, you'd better figure it out, said Granny May. Now why, facing death as I was, would I imagine her and Jimmy Durante playing croquet? Hush up and concentrate! she snapped. Because all of us imaginary characters in here don't relish the idea of roasting! This comment was followed by a chorus of hell yeahs from the rest of the cast, who'd gathered in lawn chairs at the edge of the yard. They seemed to be slugging beers and vodka tonics in equal doses in preparation for the big finale.

Great. I can't even experience a moment of sanity at my death.
This quirkiness and humor amidst some very dark scenes is, I think, my favorite characteristic of this series. Now I'm starting to get a little bit anxious because I only have one more published book in this series to go, and then I'll be in waiting limbo. I recommend these books to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy with tight, action-packed plots, memorable characters, and a touch of romance and humor.

Books in the Jaz Parks series:
1. Once Bitten, Twice Shy
2. Another One Bites the Dust
3. Biting the Bullet
4. Bitten to Death
5. One More Bite
6. Bite Marks

Bitten to Death (#4 in the Jaz Parks series) by Jennifer Rardin (Orbit, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
Graeme's Fantasy Book Review: "She’s not afraid to bring plot lines to a close so it’s almost like you get two explosive endings for the price of one book! ...Rardin gives us a little more of a glimpse into the tortured psyche of Jaz Parks (always interesting) and carves out new and intriguing directions for future books to head in."
Love Vampires: "The action in Bitten To Death is non-stop as Jennifer Rardin delivers another fantasy/spy caper fuelled with high octane fantasy thrills and sharp wit."

8 comments:

  1. Ok, I have never been a vampire fan and there is something about these covers that has always turned me off, but gosh darnit if your reviews don't always make me more curious about this series! GAH!

    I saw them all in the store I was in over the weekend and thought about it for a moment and then just said "Meh" and walked on by - but they had the first 3!!

    I'll have to do some more thinking about this.

    Also, I love her hair on this cover. ARGH!

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  2. Mwahaha! I'm bringing you over to the dark side, teehee.

    The vampire part is really not a huge part of the series - yes, it's an issue because her boss is a vampire, but there's so much more to it than that. It's got a mission-impossible kind of action/adventure feel to it, and all kinds of other cool and interesting supernatural stuff going on. I'd be curious to hear what you think if you do give the series a try.

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  3. OOoo this book looks really good. AND I love the interaction between Jaz and Vayl - it's always funny to watch it unfold. :)

    And I agree Cat, you'll get hooked. It's not All about the vampires (as most books seem to be these days)

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  4. Margo - I completely agree!

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  5. This one looks so fun, what a cool series. i do wanna read it

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  6. Blodeuedd - Ladytink hooked me on this one, and I'm so glad she did! I'll be curious to hear what you think if you give it a try.

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  7. This is another urban fantasy series I don't have, but it keeps getting such good reviews I am thinking of changing that quite soon. In shops I can find all of them except the first one typically.

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  8. Rhinoa - Isn't that always how it is? It's really a worthwhile one, one of my favorites of the genre.

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