The Anna Strong Chronicles: The Watcher
by Jeanne C. Stein
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441015467
Date: 27 November 2007 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Again this is a continuation from Blood Drive. Anna Strong is determined to learn more about her abilities and her place in the world of vampires, psychics, shapeshifters, and other mythological creatures that she joined when the pick up of a guy who'd skipped his court date took an ugly turn. Namely, she died and came back as a vamp. Now, she's a Watcher. Watchers police the supernatural denizens and punish those who do wrong. She's also still in business with her partner David Ryan catching bail jumpers. But her human friends don't know about her other life and Anna wants to hold onto the human side of her nature -- can she do that when adherence to her new life and its rules could mean losing the lives of those humans that she cares for?
As the series continues, Stein builds upon the characters already established, adding texture and emotional connections. Anna Strong is strong in her belief in justice and fairness and her willingness to put her life at risk for a friend. The supernatural underworld doesn't see things that way and wants Anna out of the way when it looks like one of her friends maybe at the heart of a problem they need to have cleaned up. But Anna never did, even as a human, follow society's rules and doesn't think this is a good time to start.
There's a lot of plot threads that seem to be totally separate, but as the story winds around the clues and people, the threads begin to knot together. Stein lays out the interactions and allows us to experience Anna's dilemma as she once again tries to find a way to live with her changed nature, but hold onto her humanity. The theme here is friendship and loyalty, and it's not simply a human concept even though it seems rare in the supernatural community. There are some hard lessons learned and some surprises that will cut deep for fans of the series. With each book the story moves forward and the characters and their interactions gain depth and solidity.