Pros: Interesting tale with good twists & turns
Cons: A bit slow; didn’t wholly pull me in
Rating: 4 out of 5
Blood Price is the first installment in Tanya Huff’s Blood Books. It can also be found as the first half of the omnibus volume The Blood Books, Vol. 1 (Blood Price / Blood Trail). This is an older book, originally published in 1991, and while it has some of Tanya Huff’s trademark style and voice, it isn’t as intense as her more recent offerings.
Vicki Nelson has retired from the Toronto police force due to vision problems. Now she’s making a living as a private investigator, and a new client wants her to find a vampire–more specifically, a vampire that, according to the tabloids, is terrorizing Toronto. Even Vicki can’t deny that she hasn’t yet found any rational explanation for the horrific killings sweeping the area. Her former partner, Mike Celluci, wants her to leave the whole thing alone. Writer Henry Fitzroy quickly becomes the only ‘partner’ Vicki feels she can trust–and Henry is a vampire, although he insists the killings are being carried out by something else entirely. Soon everyone is in danger: Vicki, Mike, Henry, Vicki’s client, and the entire city along with them.
Tanya Huff exhibits some of her usual skill with characters–even with the extended cast of extras I rarely became confused, because the characters had real personality. I enjoyed her curmudgeonly main character, Vicki, as an antidote to the standard urban fantasy heroine, and loved Vicki’s on-again off-again combative relationship with her ex-partner.
The mythology of vampires took a back seat to the characters and plot, which I appreciated. There was no need to delve too deeply into every detail of how they operated when the actual vampiric character, Henry, had much more to give to the story. Henry also manages to avoid many of the standard cliches, and I love that he writes bodice-rippers for a living!
The hysteria of the city increases as the body count rises, with people suddenly willing to believe in things they normally wouldn’t, resulting in all sorts of danger for our good-guy vampire. I enjoy the roadblocks thrown up by that, as well as some of the dark consequences.
The actual what’s-going-on was interesting, and the plot resolved in surprising and unusual ways. The book was on the slow side, especially compared to Huff’s recent offerings. It took a while to pull me in, but I very much enjoyed it once things got going.