Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Review: Blood Pact (Vicki Nelson #4)

"Someone was determined to learn the secret of life after death—and they were about to make Vicki Nelson’s mother part of the experiment!”

Blood Pact, by Tanya Huff, is the fourth book in the Blood (Vicki Nelson) series. The setting is contemporary (1990s) Kingston and Toronto, major cities in the Ontario province. It is now spring season and the second year since this series has begun. Victoria “Vicki” Nelson, private investigator and former Metro Police cop, wraps a case with her night partner, Henry Fitzroy, 450-year old vampire, bastard son of King Henry VIII and sometimes lover, finishing the job with an adulterer who left his family thinking he was dead. This story angers Vicki because her own father left her mother and herself to fend for themselves when she was little. This case affects her emotionally, and she immediately becomes very irritable. She insists that Henry and her ex-police partner and best friend, Detective-Sergeant Michael (“Mike”) Celluci, to not feel empathetic and leave her alone. She can handle things independently on her own for a change.

Vicki’s mother repeatedly calls her apartment but Vicki, wretched and furious from the case, just does not feel like talking on the phone. For days, this continues, until finally Vicki gives in. When she answers the phone, a friend of Vicki’s mother, Marjory Nelson, sadly tells her that her mother died from heart failure. Speechless and profound from what she hears, she leaves for Kingston without telling anyone the news. While Mike and Henry visit Vicki’s apartment concerning her disappearance, they both hold grudges at the sights of each other. Both men care deeply for her. Both men love her. (Talk about a love triangle over Vicki Nelson.) Both men despise each other, especially since Mike is mortal (living) and Henry is vampire (undead). But now they realize that Vicki is hurting from the loss of her mother, and they must set aside their petty feelings and rush to console her.

Meanwhile, near Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in a secret laboratory in the science halls, a doctor and her graduate students are conducting experiments to revive dead cadavers. (Basically, think of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead in the mix). Dr. Burke, Catherine and Donald have had little success with previous bodies because of their rapidly decomposition of the cadavers. One of the bodies, however, shows some nerve movement, which is a success for the team. With Catherine’s assistance in the experiments, they three may revive dead people from the dead, which will give them Nobel prizes in science. Can science defy the laws of nature? Can humans really live after death? They must seek more bodies, preferably fresh ones, so they can complete and evolve their tests.

However, Vicki Nelson does not care about the future of science regarding the human race. When she opens the casket of her dead mother in the funeral home, her body is missing. Why would anyone want to steal her body? Vicki, Mike and Henry in Kingston, Ontario, find themselves on a wild goose chase to find and recover her mother’s body so they can lay her to rest. But when Vicki spots her dead mother walking the streets, this frightens her beyond sanity. If her mother is dead, how can she be walking around like a living human? As the case becomes more dangerous and strange, Henry finds himself locked in a cage where his both his existence and sanity are at stake. Tired and startled, Vicki cannot grope with the loss of people around her any longer.

Will Mike and Vicki find the truth about her mother? Will they both live through the horror story or perish in the name of science? Only you can find that out by considering this novel.

While the concept of Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead together sounded strange and very much science fiction (my science knowledge isn't that great, but it seemed real), Huff definitely wrote this book with genius, depth, excitement and emotion. At 330 pages, there was so much action and suspense that I could not place this book down! What I found missing in the previous novel, Blood Lines, I discovered again her genuine writing style from Blood Trail. This book is loaded with character development, plot and fabulous suspense. Despite the scientific terms reiterated throughout the novel, you will easily and gradually learn the terminology. But what a story!

Some will find this book has a “darker” side with more emotional breakdowns and frightening moments. After all, Vicki lost her own mother, the woman whom she used to criticize in previous novels for always calling her like she was a little child. Until this novel, readers did not know Marjory Nelson that well, and she was always a minor character, like Tony. She did not need to know that her mother was used as an experiment test in the name of defying the laws of nature and science. With so much facing her, she just emotionally and physically breaks down. Henry also finds himself in a life-and-death situation beyond his control, and almost kills Vicki and Mike just to satisfy the Hunger. Mike, helpless in the entire scenario as a human, only wants Vicki to be happy and safe. Despite the profanity in this novel, he seemed very emotional, despite his male ego, for Vicki’s and his own life.

The ending will shock many people. While I cannot express entirely what happened, it will nevertheless explain why this series stop at only five books. Although I was disappointed that the story had to end the way it did, I feel relieved and anxious on what new role Vicki has in the next novel. Nevertheless, this is one of Tanya Huff’s best works. This book was definitely the climax of the series. It made you think and want to consider what could happen in the next chapter. All the characters seemed so vulnerable yet courageous too. I really liked this book, despite its surprising ending, and would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Stay tuned for the fifth and final book in the Blood a.k.a. ‘Vicki Nelson’ series, Blood Debt

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