Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book 54: Every Which Way But Dead

While the previous two novels have been rather similar to most series, focusing on one major case each, the third novel in the series is less concerned with a case of the week, and instead takes a look at the fall out from the last novel.
At the end of the last novel, Rachel knew had taken down Piscary, the vampire lord of the crimeworld, made a deal with a demon to serve as his familiar in exchange for his testimony, and accidentally made Nick her familiar, leading to a rift in their relationship.  Ivy had been forced to give in to her bloodlust with Piscary, and Rachel had found out there was a connection between her father and Trent Kalamack's father.  Every Which Way But Dead kicks off three months later after Piscary has been sentenced to 500 years in jail.  It is time for the demon, "Big Al," to collect his debt, and Rachel manages to find a way to both follow the terms of the contract but escape being dragged to the underworld.  Al shows up throughout the rest of the novel as Rachel must find a way to permanently escape him or find an arrangement that will work for both of them.  It helps that he left his last familiar behind, an elf that was bound to him for a millenium, and Ceri is more than happy to help Rachel.  Ivy is continuing to drink blood though she refuses to step in and serve as Piscary's scion.  Even though Kisten, to whom Rachel has a bit of an attraction, tries to step in, there is an obvious power void in Cincinnati and a mysterious Saladan is starting to take over some turf.  Not only is he going after the vampire's powerholds, he is also intefering with Trent's business.  Meanwhile, Nick decides he needs some time away, still not dealing with Rachel's pull of power through him very well and skips town.
While I am enjoying the series, I go back and forth on Rachel.  She is impulsive, can clearly look out for herself but is somewhat lacking in judgment.  She appears to sometimes veer too strictly to the idea of "illegal means it's bad" (kind of reminds me of psych class and Kohlberg's stages of moral development; I see Rachel as still being that adolescent mind set) as can be seen with how she reacts to Trent and his genetic research (yes, alternate universe and history so genetic/bio research led to some bad things but how else are you going to treat diseases?).  She also seems to have issues dressing herself - though this has been jokingly mentioned in the previous novels, in this one, her date actually picks out her clothes for her because her idea of nice wouldn't work for the local at all (she even admits later that she would have looked like an escort).  I also am not a huge fan of her taste in men.  I mean, I prefer her re-bound guy to Nick, but I still don't get why she was even into Nick, especially since she keeps referring to him as a nice guy.  To everyone else reading the series, Nick is obviously shady so while he may be a nice person to her, he still isn't a safe bet.  I was so happy when he skipped town.
Overall, it was a fun novel, and this is one of the few times I will say that the lack of a central plot worked for a series.  I know some of the Stackhouse novels got to the point where they just felt like cameos from characters mixed with Sookie doing random things, but I think in this case, it does a good job of tying up questions from previous novels, and setting the stage for things to come.  In fact, it even explains why the werewolves were so protective of the fish Rachel stole in the previous novel.  Basically, a well done transition with just enough action to be interesting while also developing characters and their changing roles in the greater picture.

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