Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Review: Blood Debt (Vickie Nelson #5)

"The restless dead are demanding vengeance from Henry Fitzroy even if it means breaking the vampires’ code he’s lived by for centuries..."

Blood Debt, by Tanya Huff, is the fifth and final book in the Blood (Vicki Nelson) series. The setting is contemporary (1990s) Vancouver and Toronto, in provinces, British Columbia and Ontario, respectively. It has been two years since the incident at Queens University that left Henry Fitzroy, 450-year old bastard son of King Henry VIII (Duke of Richmond and Somerset and other royal titles) and Mike Celluci, Toronto Metro detective, shocked in horror and Vicki Nelson, ex-police officer and Toronto-based private investigator, from sudden death. Celluci got his wish: Henry turns Vicki into a vampire to save her. Celluci has not heard from Vicki ever since that frightful night.

Somewhere in Vancouver, a young man waits in a hospital about to be released. When he tries to stand up, an orderly balances him. When the young man turned around, the look of horror scares him. Later that night, three longshoremen discover a body near their dock with bruises, purple-colored skin and missing hands. Missing hands. Who on earth could have done such a thing? As Henry Fitzroy wakes up from his night sanctuary in his condo, a ghost stands before his bed raising his missing hands. Shaken from what he has seen, Tony Foster, his friend and once homeless kid living from the streets in Toronto, insists that maybe the ghost wants revenge. Vengeance. But what can Henry do?

The ghost continues to reappear, and Henry tries to gather more information about this event. When Fitzroy could no longer handle the situation (handling ghosts are not his expertise, after all, he’s a romance writer), he calls Vicki, now vampire detective, his child, for help to get rid of his specter guests. Vampires, by the code, are supposed to keep a safe distance from each other. They live by territorial rules. Although she was his former lover, vampires no longer can have such mutual relationships. Vicki receives the call and summons Celluci to accompany her for the trek across the Canadian country to solve this case before it – these ghosts – drives Henry to insanity.

However, things become more complicated as more deaths continue to rise in the Vancouver region. Vicki and Mike suspect a clinic, through the resources of Patricia Chou, news anchor and journalist, behind the connection between the ghosts and illegal organ-legging scheme. But what they did not discover that using the law and catching the monster behind this could be risky, dangerous and even deadly. As Henry partners with Vicki, despite vampire codes, to settle this situation, they must race against time before someone dear to them could become another ghost haunting the night.

After reading Blood Pact, which was action-packed and highly suspenseful, this book seriously disappointed me. While the story of organ-legging sounded appealing and innovative, the storyline fell short. This adventure was a week long, but it felt like this case only took 3-4 days to solve. Yet this novel was over 300 pages long. I was also expecting a big, surprising ending. I didn’t get that, but at the same time, the reader can tell there will be more stories and adventures between Henry Fitzroy and Vicki Nelson. This book was not as exciting and wild as the previous novel. I understand that Huff tries to diversify her books with innovative and supernatural plots, but this book would be the least supernatural of the Vicki Nelson books: beginning with demons, werewolves, mummies, zombies and now ending with ghosts?

While I would have given this book three stars, I will give it four stars just for adding character twists on Mike Celluci (when he becomes the victim) and more background information and greater character role for Tony Foster. Tony has always been a minor character in the series whom you would have thought as, "well he’s there just for adding information." He has a bigger lead in this novel. We also sense his emotions that trouble him: Vicki is no longer human, she's a vampire, how shall he act around her? Henry has been the greatest thing in his life for giving him food, shelter and a job, but will he always live with Henry? Another question that arises, although Huff never fully explains it: can vampires truly be friends and stand near each other? Is the vampire code outdated?

Fortunately, this is NOT the last book of the Blood a.k.a. Vicki Nelson novels. When I had originally finished this novel several years ago, Blood Bank had not been published yet. It should answer my questions and concerns which led me to believe this series was still incomplete. If you haven't had the chance, check out the TV series, Blood Ties
. Although Lifetime declined to renew the series, I highly recommend the show. As of November 2008, the producers are still seeking production partners but there's no indication it will premiere again.

Overall, this novel series has been fun and invigorating. I recommend that readers start from the beginning of the series with Blood Price. Blood Pact, the fourth book, is definitely the climax—and most stimulating—of the series. I am so glad Huff decided to make this a six-book series!

Stay tuned for next and final review in the Vickie Nelson Blood series, Blood Bank.

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