Dancing with Werewolves
by Carole Nelson Douglas
(Juno, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN:  978-0-8095-7203-8
****
What a thrill ride!  Welcome to the newly fun-filled life of former reporter Delilah Street.  When she loses her job as the paranormal journalist at a Kansas TV station, Delilah follows her nose to Las Vegas to track down her body double - a woman who could be Delilah's twin who has been featured as a corpse on a popular crime show.

An orphan being one of many of Delilah's attributes, she is both horrified and intrigued by this woman (and her lack of modesty), but is almost immediately sidetracked by what can only be described as a big jumbled mess.  In short: hot men (one in particular, though not for lack of interest but thanks to her convent upbringing and some overbearing issues from her forgotten past), emerging powers that no one else seems to understand either, the mystery of a decades-old double murder that Delilah has a hand in discovering, a few abductions, a new dog, and an eclectic new bunch of friends.

 Not to mention that, as a Kansas girl, Delilah's been pretty well sheltered from the Millennium Revelation.  In Delilah's reality, at the turn of the millennium, the supernaturals all came out of the closet.  In Kansas, that meant she'd seen a few weird things and had regular contact with vampires (in fact, her coloring made her a favorite among the latter).  In Vegas ... well, anything goes.  The city is run by werewolves and thronging with unhuman species, some of which Delilah didn't even know existed.

Delilah's Romeo and Juliet are at the core of this story, but there is, obviously, a lot of clutter.  Strangely, the odds and ends seem to fit right in with Delilah herself. She really doesn't know anything more than the reader, who is left feeling directly involved, if a little clueless.  At first it seems as though the little, quirky, murky peeks into her life are teases, but really they're part of the noir-ish first-person style of the writing and of Delilah's character.  The plot is made even more fun by the glimpses into the "paranormal" history of Las Vegas as well as the CinSims, which are basically zombies created from movie reels.  It's pretty interesting to see some of those old characters come to life.  And, since Delilah prefers to create a history to make up for her own lacking one, the "vintage" individuals suit her just fine.

In fact, considering the welcome she's getting, Delilah would prefer the SinCims.  Oh, everybody wants her - the problem is that everyone has their eyes on her because a) she's an unhuman's wet dream, b) her body double's fifteen seconds of fame has escalated well beyond that, and c) she has a habit of sticking her nose in places that make powerful people (or whatever) uncomfortable.  Not that this causes Delilah to tuck tail and run.  Absolutely not.  Our heroine is stubborn and, if not brassy, definitely has brass .. well, you know.  She also has a tendency to leap before she looks, and the book has a beautiful lack of transitions, guaranteed to keep even the most impatient readers (of which I am one) involved.

One might complain that there is little depth to the characters in this book, including Delilah.  I found that that wasn't necessarily true; as a reader, you'll definitely get full-fledged feelings for each of the characters. However, Douglas is serious about the first-person point-of-view; Delilah is far, far from omniscient.  This does leave the reader in the dark.  The sly hints don't give away much since they're presented as Delilah receives them, and she doesn't always get it, either.  What makes that very nice is it will definitely keep you guessing.

Once you get over questioning Delilah's motives and her judgment, you'll be in for the ride of your life.  Here and there, things get hokey with Delilah's first-ever boyfriend, Ric, but thankfully the story moves so quickly these exchanges are brief.  Dancing with Werewolves is a fascinating combination of romance, mystery, fantasy, and paranormal that manages to stumble through all of those genres without any unforgivable blunders.  Douglas has definitely created a character and a setting that will keep readers coming back for more.

--Sarrah Knight


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