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Smoke and Mirrors by Tanya  Huff
Review by Paul Haggerty
DAW Hardcover Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 075640262x
Date: 07 June, 2005 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

CB Productions produces the vampire detective series, Darkest Night. Most episodes are filmed their studio, but for this week's script Chester Bane has rented an old mansion to add to the realism. Unfortunately, it's a little more real than he intended. Strange things happen throughout the day and Tony ends up face to fact with a couple of ghosts. When they warn him that he has to leave the house before nightfall, he believes them. After all he's been through, he'd be a fool not to. However, his belief in the danger is not enough to convince the rest of the crew or CB's two young daughters who have been brought in to be ghosts in the episode. And while he's still trying to convince them all to leave (without telling them the truth, of course), the sun sets, the doors slam shut, and the fright fest begins.

Fortunately, Tony is up to the task. He survived for years on the streets, spent time as portable blood bank for a vampire, and has now accepted that he is also a wizard, even if he only knows one spell. To keep the dozen or so innocents safe, Tony needs to come to understand exactly what is happening, who is doing it, and how it can be stopped. Arranged against him is the evil at the heart of the house, pissed off ghosts, scared ghosts who don't want to risk what little life they still possess, and of course the innocents he's trying to protect. Several of them think he's crazy (despite what they see happening around them), and several others think he's in league with the evil.

While there are plenty of cardboard characters sitting in the background, most of the featured cast are the unique and likable (or dislikable, which is just as good) carryovers from the first book. And putting them in danger for the second time is just as bad as the first since surviving one book or three books is no guarantee of safety in the next.

I recommend this book to anyone who has liked Tanya Huff's Blood series, or her Keeper Chronicles or just a good supernatural mystery. There's an excellent plot, innovative concepts, and a really twisted sense of humor running through the pages. I look forward to seeing if Tanya Huff can come up with a third supernatural disaster to inflict on the poor cast and crew of CB productions.

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