One More Bite (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin

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One More Bite (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin

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Category: Horror
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The fifth in the series comes across as relatively self-contained, and possibly the best spread of comedy, action, spookiness and Twilight-styled vampire-lurving yet.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841497099

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You are in the business of ghost release?

Well, when that is asked of a vampire CIA assassin who has lived through untold horrors and seen innumerable deaths, and Jaz Sparks, his spunky human-but-getting-less-so-with-every-book colleague-turned-lover, it only comes down as a major understatement.

The pair have in fact got some way through the world's evils, in one fell (and foul) swoop, in the previous book. But there's a balance of power in the undead that now needs to be maintained, and a coven of witches in the Scottish highlands that for once needs protection, from assassins unknown. And wouldn't you just know it, the predicted offing happens to coincide with a geeky ghost-watching convention, which promises to be the most spectacularly successful yet.

This has always been a fun series, even when going off the rails too far for my taste in imagining the other-worlds. We've had middle Eastern baddies, and action last time round centred on Greece. It's a pleasure so see this fifth volume a bit closer to the Bookbag's home, but still reasonably realised by the American author. The beginnings of the book even act out like some cosy country house mystery (albeit with hexes, ghosts, and possible human remains in the Aga), before we enter the world of the convention.

You might say this was a clear case of an opportunity missed, as the whole geekdom and ineptness of the majority of the convention guests could have been ripped into with gusto and glee, contrasted by Jaz and what she knows for the truth about the afterlife. But the sense of humour we get is of a very different sort, and it's with pleasure we see the sidekicks are again very firmly in the background (save Cole, the returning sad-sack human love interest, and Jaz's father), allowing for a very nice, personable comedy to come from Jaz's first-person narrative.

Before long the setting is mostly redundant as the action comes on strongly. Jennifer Rardin has always had a successful technique when it comes to plotting, and here the action flows through set piece to spooky bit to real life romance section (this comes across as Twilight for the grown-ups on more than one occasion).

All told, with what for me are the right elements of the fantasy, and the continued strong story-telling, combined with the humour and style of the narration, this could come down as the most perfectly balanced story in the series yet. I do begin to despair of Rardin doing anything else with her writing time, but for now this cycle is not showing a loss of quality. The debutant reader would probably lose half a mark off my Bookbag rating, but for now this is a clever, meaty and fun action book.

We must thank Orbit for our review copy.

For another book equally hard to pinpoint within the horror-fantasy spectrum, you might enjoy Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman.

Booklists.jpg One More Bite (Jaz Parks) by Jennifer Rardin is in the Top Ten Books About Vampires.

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