Hunting the Hunter
by Shiloh Walker
(Berkley, 6.99, NC-17) ISBN 0-425-21100-2
***
Shiloh Walker joins the growing number of authors making the move from erotica to the main-stream market with her latest, Hunting the Hunter. The book has loads of graphic sex, but also cashes in on the paranormal market with characters that include psychics, vampires, shifters and witches.

The hero is Kane Winter, a bounty hunter who captures bad guys with the help of his shape-shifting partner, Duke. During a bust that goes bad due to the addition of several vampires to the scenario, Duke is killed and Kane’s memory is partially wiped. A female vampire who was at the scene is one of his few remaining memories of that night.

Two years later, Kane is still a hunter, using newfound psychic skills to track and kill vampires in an effort to exterminate every single one. He watches constantly for the female vamp from his memories, the heroine, Kendall, whom he blames for the murder of his partner. Upon finding her by chance one evening in a bar, Kane learns that not only is Kendall not a murderer, she’s a bounty of hunter of sorts also, and that Duke is not dead but Kendall’s partner-in-training. After years of bitterness and being alone, Kane has difficulty believing Kendall’s story and is chagrined to admit to himself that he has a major case of the hots for her.

When Duke is kidnapped and Kane starts having terrible nightmares about Duke being tortured, Kane pairs with Kendall in order to get in her pants (and rescue Duke). With the help of several other “Hunters of the Council,” the group to which Duke now belongs and of which Kendall is a part, Kane and Kendall prepare to battle an evil villain from Kendall’s past.

As was mentioned before, there is lots of sex in this book - lots and lots of sex. The author uses no euphemisms and the sex scenes are very graphic. The main characters have sex everywhere, all the time. “Duke’s been kidnapped and is in horrible danger? Let’s do it.” “We’re in an alley and the cops are on the way? Let’s make out.” The sheer volume is numbing after a while.

With the exception of one very old witch who helps save the day, the characters are pretty much your standard. Macho psychic ex-soldier guy, macho shape-shifting ex-soldier guy, and hottie vampiress struggle against true evil. Obviously the plot is pretty much your standard as well, with the exception of a few extraordinary details.

That’s not to say that the book is purely a sex manual and dirty language thesaurus. There are some amusing moments and the writing is fast paced and very readable. Ms. Walker does a good job with the dialogue and is skillful in describing the setting in such as way that the reader can see it.

Readers to whom the “erotic paranormal” genre is new may find Hunting the Hunter titillating, but established fans of this type book will probably find it just more of the same old-same old stuff. More cynical readers will add this book to the 2006 ballot for the introduction-of-the-most-secondary-characters-who-will-probably-have-a-sequel award. While Hunting the Hunter is certainly not a book that I would completely pan, I would have a difficult time recommending it to a friend as a good buy.

--Wendy Livingston


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