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A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix
Cover Artist: Craig White
Review by Drew Bittner
Pocket Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416541448
Date: 08 January 2008 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In the sub-genre of paranormal romance, there is a theme that's emerged in book covers. The cover shows a woman, usually from chin to knee, often dressed in leather and often sporting a tattoo, and almost always holding a gun or some weapon.

You pretty much know what you're getting.

A Rush of Wings both is and is not what you'd expect from the cover.

First-time author Adrian Phoenix borrows heavily from Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice in creating a vampire murder mystery set in New Orleans. Her lead character is FBI Special Agent Heather Wallace, an intense redhead tracking the Cross-Country Killer. The killer's trail has led her to Club Hell, a Goth hangout in New Orleans; the owner of the club is Dante, a self-proclaimed vampire and lead singer of the band Inferno.

The evidence suggests that the killer is circling Dante, perhaps with an eye toward killing him ... or worse. Dante's mysterious benefactor, Lucien de Noir, fears that the FBI's involvement will make things much worse for everyone, and to some extent he's right -- Dante's lovers are torn apart in a familiar fashion and suspicion falls heavily on the club.

Despite herself, Heather believes Dante is basically innocent, but how can she prove it? And how are the very highest levels of the FBI involved with -- or perhaps covering up for -- this killer?

And lastly, what does the killer want with Dante? Even if he is a vampire, there must be something extraordinary about him. It's not just fascination that pulls Heather into Dante's world, but the attraction is there just the same.

If they want to survive, it'll take both of their uncommon talents to get to the bottom of the mystery, figure out the identity of and stop the murderer before something truly horrific happens in the Big Easy.

Despite names and meet-cutes that play to genre conventions and expectations, Phoenix has a knack for dialogue, setting and description. She also sets up Heather as an authentic-seeming FBI agent (a feat that The X-Files never seemed to manage), which is laudable in its own right. Considering how much of the intrigue swirls around the upper levels of the Bureau, doing the homework has paid off.

It helps that Dante and Heather transcend an initial impression of being Jean-Claude and Anita Blake (sans magic, in her case). Dante shows attitude beyond the blasé/cruel vampire stereotype, while Heather is (happily) more than just a girl with a gun looking for some undead lovin'.

Among the supporting characters, Johanna Moore (an FBI higher-up well versed in the "nightkind" [i.e., vampires]) stands out as a complex and well-realized character. She's playing a difficult game, with pretty high stakes, but her interactions with the other major characters are interesting and well written.

Dark fantasy fans should enjoy getting to know Dante and Heather. Adrian Phoenix isn't breaking major new ground -- yet -- but her talent shows tremendous possibility; she's definitely one to watch.

Recommended.

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