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Biting Bad: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill
Review by Drew Bittner
NAL Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451415189
Date: 06 August 2013 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Read an excerpt / Show Official Info /

Merit, Sentinel of Cadogan House, is just getting her life in order when a new threat to vampire-kind rocks Chicago. A human hate group is staging riots and even firebombings, putting the vampires of the city at risk when the mayor turns against them.

Unless Merit can get to the bottom of all this, the Chicagoland Vampires might be finished.

In riots, bad things happen. A Molotov cocktail burns up Bryant Industries, makers of Blood4You--the blood substitute that sustains nearly all vampires in North America--and now the vampire population is in jeopardy. Merit and her boyfriend Ethan (also known as the Master of Cadogan House) hurry to investigate.

Even though Merit's grandfather is no longer the liaison between the supernatural community and the mayor's office (a job now held by her most-hated enemy, McKetrick), he is still able to lend her some help. They pursue the slim leads they're able to find, backtracking the rioters to a hate monger named Robin Pope, and following up with Charla Bryant, owner of Bryant Industries.

A second problem arises when vampire corpses start turning up. The murders seem random but all too soon, a theme emerges, and an old enemy appears to be behind them--if only they can get evidence.

Meanwhile, Merit and Ethan also have to contend with Merit's father, who wants to invest in Cadogan House--an offer both greet with skepticism--over dinner with Merit's family, and a surprising offer from Merit's best friend Mallory, who has a lot of bad karma to work off.

As the investigation continues, however, troubling facts come to light. Another vampire House is attacked and Cadogan offers them desperately needed help; despite significant risk, the survivors accept. As more information comes to light, the pattern of attacks shows some inconsistencies. Putting it all together, Merit, Ethan and their allies head off to a final showdown in a warehouse full of something no vampire ever expected to see.

Neill continues the Chicagoland Vampires series in fine style, presenting Merit and Ethan with myriad challenges that gradually start to overlap. Not all of the threads are tied up neatly, but the overall collision of greed, treachery, and violent xenophobia gives the vampires a real run for their money this time around.

Now that Merit and Ethan are solidly stable as a couple, it seems like a good time to complicate their lives with family involvement. That happens in spades this time out, as Merit's father makes his offer and a casual visit turns into a crisis. More than that, Merit's stolid grandfather is a casualty, making the stakes very personal (no pun intended).

With vampire politics in play as well, the situation is dangerous from all sides. Neill very nicely ratchets up the tension and the danger, while still allowing the heroes time to catch their breath and appreciate what they have. It's a nice balancing act between action, romance, and mystery.

One thing is for sure, the status of Cadogan House is changing--and things are going to get more challenging for them from here on out. Can't wait.


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