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    Review of BAKED TO DEATH by Dean James


    Kensington Books, April 2005

    Gay vampire Simon Kirby-Jones is working on his latest historical romance novel and trying to decide whether to make a move on his hunky research assistant when his former lover, Tristan Lovelace moves back. Tristan claims he's decided he was wrong to dump Simon--and wants him back. All of which leaves Simon conflicted--it's hard to get those old feelings out, especially since Tristan was the vampire that converted Simon in the first place. The love triangle is disturbed by the arrival of a medieval reenactment next to research assistant Sir Gile's manor.

    The medieval society is torn between rival claimants to the crown--and the animosities run deep. But when one of the claimants is poisoned, Simon has to wonder whether game-playing and reenacting really is significant enough for murder. Could there be some hidden motive behind the poison. For example, could Tristan be taking advantage of the animosity to hide his own involvement. Together with Giles, and with the backing of handsome and barely out of the closet police detective Robin, Simon investigates.

    The idea of a gay vampire detective investigating medieval reenactors holds the promise of considerable humor. I was disappointed, therefore, that author Dean James chose to play this fairly straight. The humor is left in potential. Reviews of earlier Simon Kirby-Jones mysteries indicate that James is playing with the familiar mystery motifs. Here, I found any send-up to be too well hidden. We were left with a fairly standard mystery that just happened to involve a gay romance-writing vampire and a medieval faire.

    BAKED TO DEATH is written with an approachable style and certainly hooks the reader with the mystery. A bit more emphasis on the characters would have let me care more about the romantic resolution as well.

    I wasn't disappointed by BAKED and don't think many readers will be. I didn't think, though, that it lived up to its potential.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 9/27/05

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