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    SHADOWS BITE by Stephen Dedman


    TOR, December 2001

    Charlie Takumo is trying to get his life together, practicing his martial arts and becoming a modern ninja. Complications, like a criminal family trying to get access to his friend Mage through Takumo are merely part of the challenge. But when their mutual friend Kelly is assigned a case where the evidence points to a vampire, things get very serious indeed. Despite Mage's limited control over the 'focus,' a growing army of undead vampires isn't fun for anyone. Especially when they are aided by a satanic black wizzard and when that criminal family ups the ante and turns to the top bounty hunter in the country.

    Julia Petrosyan is a goth, writes morbid bad poetry, and wants nothing more than to take the final step toward becoming a vampire. When she gets there, along with a little help from the black wizzard, she lacks the self control to keep from turning person after person into the undead. And author Stephen Dedman's vampires are a lot harder to kill than the Hollywood version. Stakes through the heart barely phase them, upheld crosses are a slight inconvenience, and exposure to sunlight is painful but far from instantly fatal. Tackling a single vampire is a challenge, even for a martial artist like Takumo. Taking on the growing army seems beyond the talents of even our heros.

    Dedman escalates the intensity throughout the story, adding greater challenges as Kelly, Takumo, and Mage overcome each obstacle. I would have liked to see the romantic entanglements between Kelly, Takumo, and Mage more fully developed, and homocide detective Woodcott seemed intended to play a more significant role than he actually fulfilled, but these are small quibbles. SHADOWS BITE is a fast-moving and exciting read.

    Three Stars

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