Demon Bound

Night Life

Pure Blood

Second Skin

Witch Craft

Daemon's Mark
by Caitlin Kittredge
(St. Martin's, $7.99, R)  ISBN  978-0312943660
Jam-packed with the kinds of scenarios no person ever wants to find themself in, Caitlin Kittredge's latest Nocturne City novel is often so busy the reader will feel like they're being cheated when Luna jumps from one crisis to the next without much resolution.

It starts with the murder of a young were girl.  Recently made the lieutenant of the "Freak" squad – the department that takes care of the supernatural cases, dead werewolves are strictly Luna's territory.  The bad thing is, she's got no leads and the girl's parents are high-ranking members of a pack that is threatening Luna's life if the case is not solved yesterday.

Feeling the strain lets Luna's own wolf self loose, and she makes a number of decisions based on her animal instincts and not on her cop ones.  Though this leads her to some unsavory characters who look good for Lily's murder, it also puts Luna in more danger than she'd been in even from the angry pack.  In fact, it gets her on the bad side of the Russian mob and tossed into a container ship headed for the Ukraine.  Since she'd been investigating why sex slaves were being exported instead of imported, this is a good way to find the answers.  It's also a good way to wind up dead.

Thrown into a house of vices – sex, gambling, and fights, Luna has enough failed attempts to escape that eventually she's thrown into the pit and then, assuming she's half-dead, she's given to the sort of man who likes that in a woman.  Or so she thinks.  Turns out that her ex, Dmitri Sandovsky, is at the house doing some investigating of his own into the disappearance of yet another young girl.

Now, free, Luna remains in the Ukraine to help Dmitri rescue the daughter she never knew he had from an enterprise that has much further-reaching arms than she could have ever imagined.

If Daemon's Mark had been two books, it likely would have been two four – or maybe five-heart ratings.  There's just too much going on for one normal-sized book.  Too much action, too much humiliation and heartache, too much death, too many new things.  Luna, as is Kittredge's habit, has greatly evolved as a character; she's made strides in every book since Night Life.  Dmitri, on the other hand, seems to have regressed (the author handles this as masterfully as the evolution of her heroine), which is one of the more poignant parts of the story.  For once, Luna, her boyfriend, Will, and Dmitri are the only big presences in the book.  It has a very good tormentor of a villain and an evil that must be fought for the Greater Good.

 Unfortunately, these good elements are cobbled together with scenes from half a dozen different horror movies that may or may not overload the brain.  Fans will not be turned away, of course, and newcomers to Kittredge will likely not be disappointed, either; however, it is unfortunate that Daemon's Mark does not live up to some of its predecessors, especially when it abounds with so much potential.

--Sarrah Knight

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