Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Legacy" by Jeanne C. Stein

Stein's Anna Strong vampire series just keeps getting better and better. The fourth book finds Anna still trying to retain some of her humanity, something most vampires don't do. She still visits with her family (who live in town, making it very easy) and by still working with her PI partner, David. There are those in the paranormal community who don't believe it's a good idea to retain one's human ties, and those parties are getting anxious about Anna. Possibly enough to do something about it.

The book starts off with a bang. Anna is hired by none other than her arch-nemesis, Gloria Estrella, also David's ex-girlfriend. Gloria has done everything in her power to get Anna out of David's life, all to no avail, and the women openly loathe each other. All the more reason Anna is suspicious of Gloria's motives when the starlet asks the vamp PI to talk to her business partner Rory O'Sullivan. They own an upscale restaurant together, and it seems that Rory is trying to blackmail Gloria into sleeping with him. Again. Anna is furious that David has been betrayed yet again, but she agrees to talk to the mogul. Only he ends up dead before she can do just that. And who's the number one suspect? Gloria Estrella, business partner, and mistress. It looks like an open and shut case, but Gloria yet again takes advantage of Anna's love for David and hires her to prove her innocence. At least, on the charge of killing O'Sullivan, that is. But Anna's got her own motives; Gloria agrees to remove herself permanently from David's life. And she's going to pay Anna $200/hour plus expenses while she's investigating the murder.

Even thought Gloria appears to be the most likely candidate, there are others to consider. O'Sullivan's son, Jason, didn't have the most loving relationship with his mostly-absent father, and he and Gloria seem to be pretty chummy. Jason in turn points the finger at his step-mother, who claims to have known nothing about the affair until recently, but all signs point otherwise. And then there's a strange business deal that has apparently gone south on O'Sullivan, something involving a pharmaceutical company and a vaccine against HIV. Plenty of red herrings where nothing is what it seems.

Complicating matters are a pack of werewolves that have just rolled into town, a pack of mostly female weres, led by Sandra, who also claims to be Avery's wife. Avery, if you recall, is the vamp that turned Anna, the one that she in turn ended up killing when he revealed how evil and controlling he was. Seems Sandra is in town to claim Avery's estate, which is just fine by Anna; she never wanted anything of his in the first place. But Sandra seems to consider Anna to be part of that estate, and Anna is confused by her growing attraction to Sandra. It has to be some sort of spell, right? Because Anna isn't attracted to women, not normally, and she sure feels as if there's magic in the air. The question is what kind of magic, light or dark?

As usual, there's quite a bit going on for a fairly short book. Stein holds it all together nicely, though, and I was happy with the ending. There are obviously more Anna books to follow, and while I look forward to reading them, I do admit that I have one little wish. I want Anna to reveal to David that she's a vampire. Yeah, Anna's ex, Max, couldn't handle the truth, but I think David can. And I think David may care about Anna more than he's willing to admit. I'm curious to see how it will play out. Stay tuned...

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