I devoured my Christmas copy of The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair in 24 hours, and was yearning for more soon after.
I've enjoyed all of Sinclairs former SF/Romance hybrids, though I've had a few tiny quibbles with a couple of them. But Sinclair is that rare author whose storytelling abilities are honed to a razor sharpness, so her books are always entertaining, enlightening and satisfying.
This particular novel was even more fun than the last book, because I've lived in St Petersburg, Florida the town used as a template for the mythical Bahaia Vista, Florida, the setting of the novel. I've also visited Tarpon Springs and its hearty Greek community, so I was interested in Sinclairs take on the former sponge-diving community and its ethnic foods, customs and denizens.
Sinclair didn't disappoint, thankfully, and I was riveted to the snappy plot, bright dialogue and well-rounded characters.
The story is mainly a fish out of water romance, with an alien commander, Jorie, who lands on earth to wipe out the dreadful zombies, horrible creatures created to do a specific job on her world, when they went rogue and started to kill. Jorie meets up with Theo, a local cop, who learns of the zombies and the damage they can cause the hard way--by nearly getting his head blown off. Theo and Jorie fall in love, of course, but do so slowly and with a number of challenges along the way, not the least of which is the aliens prejudice against "nils" or earthlings who don't have their same level of technological or space-faring expertise.
It was great fun to recognize various St Pete landmarks, and to read about a police chief named Brantley, after a member of Sinclairs email listserve group (fair disclosure, I also hang out at Sinclairs Intergalactic Bar and Grille).
On the other hand, I also read through Laurel Hamiltons Obsidian Butterfly and was thoroughly disgusted that I'd wasted the time and energy reading it. I'm not a fan of horror fiction, and Hamiltons Merry Gentry series left me cold because it was mainly clothing descriptions interspersed with graphic descriptions of sex in all its forms. Not being a fan of fashion or porn, I decided not to read any more of Hamiltons books. Then my friend Renee gave me a couple of copies of Hamiltons "Anita Blake, vampire hunter" series and I decided to give Hamilton another chance, hoping that this series would provide some actual romance, interesting plots or great characters. Anita Blake, it turns out, is a woman with very little conscience who is very good at killing and terrible at nearly everything else. In this novel, she encounters an Aztec vampire masquerading as a goddess and is on the trail of a serial killer who removes the skins of his victims and keeps them alive with magic. Ewww. There was a great deal of horror and gorey description in Obsidian Butterfly and NO romance, which really hacked me off. Blake hooks up with another assasin and his "backup" minions, all of whom are sociopaths or psychopaths, and I got the feeling that Hamilton expected the reader to somehow think that Blake was "better" than these men, who are her peers in the business of killing others. Turns out I really didn't like any of them, and found their lack of ethics, compassion and morality repugnant. Even Edward, the head assassin, was souless and nasty, right up until the end, when it appears he is willing to give his life to save two children. Blake somehow makes her peace with his actions and ruthlessness, and believes he will somehow become a good family man, given the opportunity to marry a widow and help raise her children. I didn't feel that Edward would ever be anything but a souless killing machine, and that to put him in a household and have him enact a persona for the rest of his life was courting disaster. I don't think even love can change someone with a black heart and corrupted mind.
At any rate, I didn't like Blake or her sophistry and her lifestyle. I guess I am going to have to pass on the rest of this series, too. If you're a fan of horror with plenty of blood and gore, this series is for you. If, however, you'd prefer some great science fiction with a nice levening of romance and fun, then you should pick up a copy of Linnea Sinclairs latest. It will keep you up until the wee hours, I guarentee.