Night Life

 
Pure Blood
by Caitlin Kittredge
(St. Martin's, 6.99, R)  ISBN 978-0-312-94830-6
*****
Boy, does Caitlin Kittredge know how to make a comeback. I've found that the second book in a series often doesn't live up to its potential (although authors most often rebound from that in the third novel of a series), but she has blown that theory clear out of the water.  Pure Blood showcases the great things about paranormal novels: magic, suspense, action, and gutsy heroines while leaving out all of the junk that the genre's popularity has accumulated over the past few years.

Luna Wilder, the hot-tempered werewolf detective from the first Nocturne City novel, is back on the job following the three months of medical leave necessary after her last major case. Her luck being what it is, Luna picks up an OD case on her way in the first night, closely followed by getting her butt chewed by her new captain and acquiring an unwanted partner.

She's considering writing off the case when another apparent overdose occurs. This time, the victim is a young man from a prominent witch family, the Blackburns. Since the first victim was a peon for the witches, warning bells ring immediately. Autopsies reveal that the overdoses weren't accidental deaths, but murders.

Not only does Luna hit opposition from her superiors, but it turns out that her new partner, Shelby, is from a clan of witches that are enemies of the Blackburns. Unfortunately, the family is also rich and highly respected in Nocturne City – plus, they're caster witches.  The Blackburns, who are blood witches and thus involved in dark magic, have that nasty stigma attached to them; no one wants to see them as victims, even when one of their young daughters is kidnapped.

In the midst of all this, Luna is faced with the two most important men in her life: the sadistic man who turned her, and her mate Dmitri, both of whom have been MIA.  Joshua is working security for the O'Hallorans.  Since Luna is not tied to any werewolf pack, he is free to damage her as he pleases as long as he doesn't kill her.  Dmitri, recently back from the Ukraine atoning to the pack and healing from daemon wounds, has returned, much to Luna's delight and consternation.

Unfortunately, he's returned with another mate who is part of his deal with the pack.  The pack doesn't like Luna or the fact that Dmitri keeps getting involved with her case, and they make a deal with her as well: leave him alone, fine a cure for his daemon bite, and we won't kill you.

Pure Blood is non-stop, alternating between action and heartbreak and always seasoned with suspense.  Luna's not a sit-on-her butt type, and often acts before considering the consequences.  Her smart mouth definitely causes a few "you go, girl!" moments, but also makes you wince – she gets herself into a lot of trouble.  She's not Miss Popularity with any echelon of society, and Luna makes few apologies for who or what she is.  The people around her, however, are pretty well aware of that, but don't suffer her mistakes gladly.

Though Night Life had hints of Kittredge's power, Pure Blood-- especially as a second novel – has revealed her in all her glory.  Readers will have trouble putting the book down, and will be caught on the edges of their seats when it finally snaps to a halt.

--Sarrah Knight


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