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Bad Blood (A Crimson Moon Novel) by L.A. Banks
Review by Sherin Nicole
St. Martin's Mass Market  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312949112
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Series Page / Author's Website / Show Official Info /

L.A. Banks has built a better monster and created a brand of Were for the urban fantasy and wolf lover alike.

Animal instincts aside, Sasha Trudeau doesn't know nearly as much as she believes -- and that goes for Paranormal Containment and the she-wolf within -- but she's about to be schooled.

Just a few days ago she'd been happily munching pizza with her Special Ops squad mates -- fellow soldiers who'd become both pack and family. Sasha, Rod, Woods and Fisher; they were brought together by the military but bound by the taint in their blood.

Years ago they'd each been attacked by werewolves. Now they rely on meds produced by Dr. Xavier Holland (Sasha's adoptive father) to keep their wolves at bay. Still, they are one of the government's most effective tools in damming ever-strengthening waves of supernatural activity. They're a killer team. So why are their superiors separating them?

Just days ago Sasha believed in the chain of command, that all Weres were man-eaters, that demons lived in Hell and that vamps merely talked a good game.

That is not today. While she was on a solo mission to North Korea her squad went missing. Well, "missing" may not be a strong enough term -- but Woods and Fisher are still out there and she's determined to find them. Dr. Holland is incommunicado, having taken an unsanctioned trip to Ute Indian territory to visit his old friend, Silver Shadow.

Holland's only message for his daughter amounts to: Watch your back, dump everything. Sasha already knows she's being watched, perhaps hunted, by several factions —- maybe even one she calls brother. Worse, the military wouldn't be the government's right arm without a conspiracy or two.

Kicking off the drama is a hellacious group of Weres that's tampering with the food supply. Not ours … the vampires'. Anyway you slice it that means mankind is in all kinds of trouble. Things are getting hectic. Sasha's humanity is at risk and she's alone –- again. So when the obviously lupine and super sexy Max Hunter shows up, Sasha would rather blast him first and check his story second. After all, what the hell is a Shadow Wolf and what does it have to do with the sins of their fathers?

Bad Blood is a solid intro to the new Crimson Moon series by L.A. Banks. Banks has an extraordinary imagination, somehow fusing themes and cultures that seem disparate into an engaging tale, then mixing in urban crime, the paranormal, smokin' sex scenes and frenetic action.

Another great component of her storytelling is the creation of supernatural causes for real-world events. Serial killers become the human descendants of vamps; South American werewolf killing sprees are reported as the work of vicious drug cartels. This lends her stories a credibility and grittiness not often found in romance-tinged fantasy, and it's welcome.

You'll have to remember this is a new series. There's quite a bit of world building and exposition. So while you may feel much of this first novel lays the groundwork for storylines to come -- you won't be able to help getting caught up in the flow.

I am not a big fan of werewolves, never have been. I've always pictured them as rabid beasts without any of the qualities that make real wolves interesting. But with L.A. Banks' three species, each with its distinct properties and powers, my interest is piqued. The Shadow Wolves are more reminiscent of Richard and Wendy Pini's Wolfriders than anything out of The Howling. And not since Jim Butcher's Fool Moon have I been so intrigued by the possibilities of the lycanthrope. In Bad Blood, Banks has built a better monster and created a brand of Were for the urban fantasy and wolf lover alike.

Much like the Vampire Huntress series before it, Bad Blood is infused with an almost musical undertone that reads more cinematic than literary. These characters could easily out "Hard Knock" Annie (or Jay-Z, for that matter) but express their angst on a headier soundtrack. They are real, they're flawed and they're street-lethal. You have to like them. Looking ahead to the second book, Bite The Bullet, I can only say "Bring that beat back!"

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