Another One Bites The Dust by Jennifer Rardin

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Another One Bites The Dust by Jennifer Rardin

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Category: Horror
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A techno-dragon sort of vampire, hiding in a circus? It needs our vampire and human heroes to solve this puzzle, but also to give our author a slap for rushing a sequel to a very good read that really is not in the same league.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 336 Date: December 2007
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496399

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Having survived the attack the particular nasty levelled against the world in the first book, can the newly-formed gang thwart the efforts of the Raptor again?

The gang, for those who haven't yet read the first in this series, are Jaz - feisty mostly-human secret agent, who likes trashing cars on her espionage missions, but doesn't like not knowing how to control her blackouts; Vayl - the handy vampire fighting on behalf of humanity against the nasty vampires and other undead-style creatures that are common knowledge in this world; Cole - the daffy private eye turned Jaz-fancier turned colleague; Cassandra - the clever psychic and font of much that is known about the world of the occult; and Bergman - techno-boff who has been of great help to Jaz in providing security, and gizmos, but who has been responsible for creating the ultra-powerful secret weapon stolen at the start of this adventure.

Arrayed against the quintet are Chien-Lung, the oriental vampire who thinks he could become a dragon - and with the weapon tech he now has he might as well be, his hench-men and women, and the reavers, whoever they might be...

I have to admit I found the first book a lot tighter when it concerned just Jaz and Vayl, as main heroes, and the gadget Cassandra uses to recall arcana never gelled with me. So it's a bit of a problem that the book starts in such a concentrated way on the five goodies using said item, and using all their skills to infiltrate an oddball festival in order to get knowledge of Chien-Lung's goings on, amongst his Chinese acrobat cover.

Oh, should I have said before now this is a comedic horror thriller? Sorry.

The thriller elements of the story are the heroes working out who is behind what, and for us what part the acrobatic baby will hold in the plot. There is some horror, for sure - the scene where someone is impaled to a table through the hands by the claws of something try to ingest their soul is perhaps the peak. The humour comes again from the feisty narration by Jaz - including her sheer ignominy in being forced to go undercover by being a belly dancer, to her mental verve in, say, naming the Winnebago couches Mary-Kate and Ashley.

However I found all three elements to be weaker than the first book. The story got back on track without Cassandra's object, but then proved to be too linear. There were vague attempts at surprise regarding who was pulling whose strings on the side of the baddies, but no major shocks and not enough to disarm us or the protagonists and put them under peril.

As a horror comedy thriller it still has many factors that could endear it to readers, and it certainly could not be dismissed, but coming off the back of the first in the series it has to be said to be quite inferior. I guess there's a transition between this and the third book, which I would not dismiss out of hand as not being worth my while, but the spark I enjoyed in the first book with the comedic narrative, whole interaction between Vayl and Jaz - the spark hitting almost every mark, in fact - is a lot dimmer here.

You might well wish to differ with me, and I could not put you off reading this book if you enjoyed the first as I did. If you haven't read that it's still recommended. While part two here works as a stand-alone and the new reader will manage to work out all the relevant antagonisms and past history the five have, they really should start at the beginning, it being so much better.

I still have hope the third can revive the franchise - if it is as good as the first it would still make a fine book-end to a trilogy, but this lapse from a goodly height, without making this a bad book, has been a bit of a let-down.

I would still like to thank the publishers for sending a copy for the Bookbag to sample.

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