Jeaniene Frost, One Grave At A Time

Things just never calm down for Cat Crawfield Russell, and her husband, Bones. The two vampires were looking forward to some downtime, but that’s just not happening. Their ghost pal Fabian has brought a new friend home. Elisabeth’s been a ghost for centuries, ever since she was murdered by the psychotic witch hunter, Heinrich Kramer. It turns out that Kramer might have died a while back also, but that hasn’t stopped him from becoming solid every Halloween, long enough to rape, burn, and kill several women. He’s growing more powerful with every passing year, and Elisabeth’s determined to put an end to his reign of terror.

Now Cat and Bones, along with their best friends Spade and Denise, are out to stop Kramer once and for all. Recruiting a medium and a paranormal investigation team, they’re out to to build the perfect ghost trap. With Halloween fast approaching, it’s a race against time. Not only do they have to thwart someone they can’t even touch, they have to locate and protect his potential victims, and track down his mortal accomplice. But while they can’t touch him, Kramer can manifest long enough to make their lives miserable. And if that wasn’t enough, Cat’s former government team of vampire hunters has been taken over by a narrow-minded, vampire-hating bureaucrat, and he’s actively working against them. It’s going to be one hell of a throwdown.

I’ve been a fan of this series since the start. Frost consistently delivers an enjoyable blend of action, romance, and paranormal chills and thrills. Cat and Bones make for a charming pair, and it’s nice to see that they’ve lost none of the romantic chemistry that’s been an underpinning of the series all along, even if they are (gasp) married and everything. They may have changed and grown along the way, but they still maintain that spark. Even better, it’s actually kind of fun to see them together with Spade and Denise. Just a pair of couples, all good friends, hanging out and fighting evil. I mean hey, it beats bowling on Fridays, right?

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, I found Kramer to pretty much be a one-note villain, lacking in complexity or depth. I found his brief moments of rational conversation far more interesting than his usual insane ranting and misogynistic raving. I felt like it was a waste of an antagonist, especially compared to how detailed and complex the main characters are. The other antagonist, the bureaucratic flunky Madigan, was somewhat more intriguing, and I really hope he’s got as-yet-unexplored layers to make him more than a red tape and rules kind of guy.

While I enjoyed the addition of Tyler, the medium, to the cast, I’m not sure what to make of him. On the one hand, it’s great to have another gay character out there. On the other, he was presented in a manner most unsubtle. Thanks to Cat and Bones both having telepathic abilities to some degree, we learned just how very unsubtly gay Tyler is: by the way he actively and lecherously lusts after every male he meets, in flamboyant detail. I just think he could have been handled in a much more nuanced manner, although I did find myself hoping that maybe he’d hook up with one of the unattached characters. Sadly, poor Tyler doesn’t find love this time around. Maybe in a little bit. I’m pretty sure Cat and Bones are running out of single friends. Apparently even Vlad Tepesh, AKA Dracula, is getting a spin-off series.

But I really do digress. Overall, this is a series that consistently pleases me. Cat and Bones are a marvelously delightful couple, and the more I see of their world, the more I like it. Minor missteps aside, I’ll be back to see what’s in store for our heroes next time.

(And by the way, I utterly love the covers. They’ve been a strength of this series from day one.)

(Avon, 2011)

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