Blood Debt

Reviewed: March 21, 2005
By: Tanya Huff
Publisher: DAW Books
330 pages, $9.99

When the bastard son of Henry VIII finds himself being wakened by a screaming ghost with no hands at the end of his enforced day’s sleep, he is disconcerted. When he discovers that the scream is killing people in his condo building, Henry Fitzroy realizes he has to do something about it. He is a principled vampire after all.

Trouble is, Henry is a romance novelist by trade, not a detective. His friend, Vicki Nelson, is a PI, but now that Vicki is also a vampire (he turned her in order to save her “life”) they can’t coexist in the same territory without killing each other.

Well, that’s the tradition anyway. Vicki and her lover, detective Mike Celluci, drive from Toronto to Vancouver in order to test this ancient vampiric custom and solve Henry’s problem before more people die. The cross country drive in a specially rigged out van provides a number of interesting moments, especially when some unsuspecting bandits steal the van about sundown while Mike is eating in a roadside diner.

In Huff’s version of the myth vampires are total loners due to a need not to overcrowd their harvesting areas. They’re not supposed to actually kill very many people. The hunt is more of a seduction than a killing, though there is blood involved.

There is a mystery in this story, and some nasty individuals doing horrible things to street people, but a good deal of the tale is about Mike trying to walk a thin line between Vicki and Henry while they try not to rip each other’s throats out from sheer territorial instinct. The solution they arrive at is not quite what either of them thought it would be.