Impressively wrought modern vampire/redemption yarn, from the author of The Phoenix Guards, The Gypsy (p. 641), etc. Arriving in the quiet college town of Lakota, Ohio, Agyar Janos takes up residence in an empty, furnished house--abandoned because it's haunted by Jim, the ghost of an escaped slave. The pair strike up a wary friendship, and it becomes apparent that Agyar, methodical, callous, detached from both life and death, is a vampire. His first victim is artist Jill, but she rebels against his control of her; so when threatened by Jill's shotgun-toting boyfriend, Agyar kills him without compunction. Then Laura Kellem, the ancient vampire to whom Agyar is himself in thrall, orders Agyar to sacrifice himself by allowing the police to capture him, so as to preserve Kellem's own concealment, which she has foolishly compromised. At first, Agyar cares little; but in his developing non-vampire relationship with Susan, Jill's warm, attractive, intelligent flatmate, he finds compelling reasons to stay alive. Poor Jill, meantime, performs a gypsy magic ritual in another desperate attempt to break free of Agyar. But Agyar is no longer the vampire he was. After learning the details of the ritual, he voluntarily releases Jill; then, accompanied by Susan, he prepares to use the ritual himself in a showdown with the merciless Kellem. Compact, understated, and highly persuasive. Brust accomplishes with a wry turn of phrase or a small flourish what others never achieve despite hundreds of gory spatters.