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HELLBENT by Cherie Priest

HELLBENT

By Cherie Priest

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-345-52062-3
Publisher: Spectra/Bantam

Without pause for thought, Priest plunges into a sequel (Bloodshot, 2011, etc.) featuring Seattle vampire thief Raylene Pendle that aims toward comedy and strikes flab.

Raylene, who steals things to order and lives in a warehouse along with her lodgers, street urchins Domino and Pepper and blind vampire Ian Stott, has a new commission from shady auctioneer Horace Bishop: to steal a box of bacula (penis-bones, ha-ha) derived from such legendary creatures as unicorns, gryphons and werewolves. Said bones, thanks to their enormous magic power, are extremely valuable. However, once she arrives at the indicated location, the bones have departed, likewise their former owner's existence, and his shack is about to be blown to shreds by mega-powerful lightning bolts. Back at home, another problem has emerged. Ian's father has mysteriously died in an Atlanta vampire house, and his brother Max in San Francisco is demanding his presence—since, Raylene suspects, Max secretly wants to bump Ian off and rule the roost. Then Horace calls with an update: The bones' new owner is Elizabeth Creed, a schizophrenic genius ex-NASA astrophysicist and now, evidently, a witch. Pausing only to drag her sidekick, ex–Navy SEAL and drag queen Adrian deJesus, along, Raylene decides to tackle both cases at once. Neither proves particularly sensible, consequential or mettlesome. Along the way, we learn far more about Raylene's OCD and other insecurities than we need to. Pages of dreary banter limp past.

Is Raylene going soft? Well, she's more human and far less distinctive. Unasked, we also get fangs and bats, if not yet any capes or hissing.