The Sweet Scent of Blood by Suzanne McLeod

I saw a post about this book on Urban Fantasy Land and I was very intruiged, but a bit frustrated because I didn't see it in a US book website at the time, only in Amazon UK. In the end I got it from thebookdepository.com but it looks like now you can see it on Amazon with a 2-4 week shipping time – probably because it's published in the UK right now, not in the US? The street date is September 4th, 2008.

"My name is Genny Taylor. I work for Spellcrackers.com. It’s a great job, pays the rent, lets me do the thing I’m good at – finding magic and cracking it – and the bonus is it’s run by witches, which stops the vamps from taking a bite out of me.

Not that vampires are the big bad any more, not since they launched a slick PR campaign – ­ oh, and they brought the goblins on board. Now the vamps are sought-after celebrities, and Getting Fanged and taking the Gift are the new height of all things cool.

But only if you’re human.

And I’m not.

I’m Sidhe fae.

And I know firsthand just how deadly a vampire can be.’

When Mr October, a sexy calendar pin-up vamp, is accused of murdering his girlfriend, an old debt is called in and Genny is forced to help prove his innocence, risking her job and the protection it offers – and threatening to expose her own dark secrets. Searching for the killer plunges Genny deep into the hidden heart of vampire society. It’s not long before she realises that she and Mr October are both unwitting pawns in a centuries-old power struggle between London’s non-human communities . .  . and it’s not just her own neck that’s at stake, but the lives of all London’s supernaturals."

 

This book seems to follow more of the urban fantasy tradition in the same vein as Kim Harrison, Karen Chance and C.E. Murphy. Basically you have a female protagonist with some special powers, who gets caught up in a mystery while trying to fend off the interest of big bads because of her unique assets. In this case Genny is the only Sidhe Fae in London – a particularly tasty snack for vampires, with a better constitution, so less likely to die for a long time, and she's already susceptible to craving vampire bites. Genny is reluctant to get involved with vampires but because of a debt, she has to help Mr. October prove his innocence. At first I thought that Mr. October might be a love interest, but he is a minor character, and the love interest seems to be someone she works with, although she also has a strange attraction to a certain vampire.

This book had a really interesting world – and I liked how vampires are treated like celebrities and tourists flock to look at them and have them drink their blood. It was interesting to have them use PR and advertising to project a certain image, while still being dangerous. I was a bit sceptical about how harmless they pretended to be while glorying in bloodplay, fear, rape and whatever else though, the difference seemed so extreme. A nit, I know. The other issue I had was how complicated this book started to feel – It started off really well. Chapter one in the cafe, was a great introduction into the world, but then later the information was doled out in crumbs, especially regarding Genny's past which get vaguely alluded to in either a small flashback or in a sentence or two in the middle of the investigation and in her strange actions (wait till you see her dual personality). It felt like there was a whole missing story that doesn't get told and we're inferring it from what's going on. Then the investigation itself – it seems that every vampire has his or her own agenda, no matter who they are affiliated with, and there are 5 or 6 vampires involved, plus we have witches, brownies, some humans, and the police, all muddying up the waters. When things finally go down and Genny discovers what's really going on, it got rather messy. I had this strange feeling like when you're in a dream and of course everything makes sense in the dream, but afterwards you realize it really doesn't. For example Genny finding herself tied up in the same room as someone else, then escaping and popping into a random person's bedroom? Who wants to help her? And then she gets caught up in a big… fight match thing? It sort of makes sense but not really. And in the end I still felt like there was a big plot hole explaining how Melissa's murder was carried out, but no one cares. I like it when an author lets you learn about the world by just putting you into it, but I felt in this case I'd have appreciated a more basic background details, and a little less trying to add as much as possible into the plot.

Overall: Recommended for urban fantasy fans. It does remind me of Kim Harrison's work, which is a good thing, and Genny is interesting – I want to learn more about her and to find out what happens next, but I wish that the plot flowed better. I say less surprise kinks and characters into the plot, more focus on building existing characters and the world, and I'd be happy. This is a debut author, so for a first book, it gets high points and is a promising series. There is a dark bent to this story so it is urban fantasy, and I'm not sure how many books there will be. The second book The Cold Kiss of Death comes out July 2009.

Excerpt of Chapter 1.

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