Tour’s Books Blog

September 5, 2010

Book Reviews: Two Paranormal Mysteries

Paranormal mysteries are all the rage these days.  Like any other genre, things go in and out of fashion.  Now before you noir snobs snipe at paranormal mysteries, I’d suggest you remember that urban fantasy is part of that mix and the UF has been a male author domain for decades.  Award winning mystery author Charlie Huston has his Joe Pitt series, best selling fantasy author Jim Butcher has Harry Dresden, Mario Acevedo writes the Felix Gomez series – and the list goes on.  Many women writers are getting in on the craze with everything from cozies to UF.  Some of my favorite new series are by women authors.  The two reviews below examples of the variety that you’ll find these days.

  • Title: Murder in Vein
  • Author:  Sue Ann Jaffarian
  • Type:  Paranormal mystery/UF
  • Genre: An ordinary waitress gets involved with vampires and witches in LA
  • Sub-genre:  First in series; A near murder victim becomes involved with a Vampire Council
  • My Grade: B (4*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words ebook for $14.95; 30% discounts available
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased book from online bookseller

Sue Ann Jaffarian has two popular cozy series in print, the Odelia Grey series and the Ghost of Granny Apples series.  I’ve not read them, but they had good reviews.  With Murder in Vein, she begins a very different kind of series that’s closer to the UF style of the paranormal spectrum.  Not as dark as Charlie Huston, or a ‘wise guy PI’ as many UF are, but not a cozy.

Madison Rose is a young woman trying to make a life for herself.  Her dad is in prison, her mom dead in a convenience store robbery he committed that went wrong.  Her only aunt died when she was 8 and after that, the sadly inept foster care system had her.  She started out at 18 committing various petty crimes, mostly rolling drunks for money, but her small inheritance at 21 allowed her to leave Idaho and move to LA where she works hard as a waitress and lives in a crappy apartment while she takes college courses at night.  Her life changes again when she’s kidnapped by one of the diner patrons and ends up trussed up in the woods about to become a rape victim – and likely the latest victim of a serial killer stalking LA.

Madison is frightened, but what happens next is almost beyond her comprehension.  A nice looking older couple happen on the scene and attack her kidnapper.  Actually, they bite him and drink his blood.  Then they talk about killing her because she’s seen there really are vampires.  She does the only possible thing and passes out.

She wakes up in the home of Doug and Dodie Dedham, her vampire rescuers – and they scare her to death despite Dodie’s kindly mothering attitude and Doug’s dark humor.  She meets Detective Mike Notchey, another of their ‘rescues’ and a human friend, of sorts.  She is a survivor, and the only one so far, of a serial killer, one supposedly in custody who was caught and confessed.  Mike doesn’t believe that man did the killings, so he’s unofficially investigating with the help of the LA Vampire Council.  The vamps are very concerned that these killings put their secret at risk.  Now she too is a risk and the head of the Council, the enigmatic Samuel la Croix, a very ancient vampire who brought a measure of order and rules to the LA vampires, wants to speak with her.   The Council ask her to help them learn who is behind the killings by working with the snide and snarky younger vamp, Colin Reddy.  The one thing all the dead have in common is a line on their palm, called a bloodline.  Only humans with a bloodline can be turned.  Someone is killing potential vampires and draining their blood.

Ms Jaffarian does a surprising good job of capturing the ambivalent feeling that Madison has for the vamps – from sheer terror to a slowly building trust and affection for the Dedhams.  The attraction and revulsion.  The lure of the intimacy of having a person drink her blood, the fear of becoming a victim.   It’s Nothcey who keeps reminding her that vamps really are monsters, even if they do seem warm and friendly.  Their rules are different.  They were human once, but not anymore.  The mystery part is also well done.  The author reminds the reader of just how different the vamps are when Madison witnesses them ‘questioning’ one of the murderers.

Is Murder In Vein the average $10.50 sale price?  I’d say yes.  It’s a good read and creates an engaging, believable urban fantasy world with thorns and roses in modern LA peopled with interesting characters and a decent mystery.

  • Title: A Witch in Time
  • Author:  Madelyn Alt
  • Type:  Paranormal cozy mystery
  • Genre:  Maggie O’Neil series;  Maggie gets involved in a death at the hospital
  • Sub-genre:  Amateur sleuth
  • My Grade: C (3.0*)
  • Rating:  PG-13
  • Length and price:  Full novel about 90,000+ words ebook for about $15 a 30% discounts off cover; mmpb available $7.99 in January 2011
  • Where Available:  book available at any book store
  • FTC Disclosure:  Book from online book swapping site
Maggie O’Neil and her boyfriend Marcus are having a night at his his house.  Hopefully THE night.  You know, the one where they FINALLY get to fully enjoy each other.  For the whole night.  But just as things were getting really interesting, Maggie is called to the hospital by her mother.  Her sister is in labor, the doctor tossed them out of the birthing room and they don’t know what’s happening.  My least favorite character in this series, and one of the things that spoils it for me, is Maggie’s relationship with her overbearing, controlling mother.  I don’t find the woman amusing or exasperating, just manipulative and self-centered.  I despise the woman and have little tolerance for how other put up with her emotional bullying.
That said, Maggie goes to the hospital with a willing Marcus in tow and allows herself to be subjected to another dose of her mother’s constant sniping.  In the process of getting coffee and some food for her parents and grandfather, she ends up stuck in an elevator and overhears something that she fears is a plan to kill someone.  After a rather too long waiting room scene, it turns out that Maggie’s younger ‘perfect’ sister Mel will need a C-section – for twins.  Thing is, not even her husband knew she was carrying twins.
Greg bails on his with and twin daughters, claiming he needs to be in court in the morning.  Since there is  only other ‘new mommy’ on the floor, Mel has a private room and the babies are with her.  Maggie volunteers to spend the night while Mel recovers for the surgery.  She sees a strange man going into her room of the other new mommy after the woman’s ecstatic husband and in-laws leave.
Next morning, after one of those conversations with her sister about the twins being a surprise to Greg, Maggie takes the stairs down (No more elevators after what the previous night) and steps the wrong way, breaking her ankle.  Her best friend, a nurse at the hospital, calls her boyfriend, a doctor, and she gets rescued.  The scary part was realizing her mom wanted her back at the house where she could ‘take care of her’.  Marcus, her white knight, saves her by taking her to his house instead.  To bad that big yellow cast is putting a crimp the romance department.  But it the death of Tony Nunzio, the young man in the hospital to see the other new mom, that grabs her interest.
Unfortunately, the killer is obvious, as is the likely motive, despite the confession of someone else.  While a readable story, with a fairly likable heroine (with the exception of the whole mother thing), it was just very predictable, lacking verve, excitement,  or compelling plot.  Even the big surprise for her best friend at the end was kind of a dud.
Was A Witch in Time worth $15.00?  Nope.  Thank heavens I resisted the temptation to buy and got it in a book swap!  I’ve read most of the other books in this series and this was easily the weakest of them all.  If you’re a fan of the series, wait for the mmpb in January, or better still, get it from the library or as I did, from a book swapping site.  Even at $7.99, you won’t be getting your money’s worth.


  1. Thank you so much for the great review of MURDER IN VEIN. So glad you liked it. Stay tuned. The 2nd adventure will be out Sept. 2011.

    Comment by Sue Ann Jaffarian — September 20, 2010 @ 9:28 pm | Reply

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brad Wyman, Sue Ann Jaffarian. Sue Ann Jaffarian said: Here is an excellent review of MURDER IN VEIN on a cool book blog. […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Book Reviews: Two Paranormal Mysteries « Tour’s Books Blog -- — September 21, 2010 @ 8:48 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: