"Past Redemption" is the second book in Savannah Russe's 'Darkwing Chronicles' series about a small group of vampires working for the American government. It follows on a few weeks after the close of the last book, "Beyond The Pale" when Daphne Urban, our heroine, had transformed her vampire hunter lover into a vampire - to save his life. However this caused rather a rift in their relationship and when "Past Redemption" starts Daphne is staring into her drink in a bar moodily wondering why her love life has gone so wrong.
Daphne and her colleagues Benny, Cormac and Bubba have been sent to a bar by their handler, J, without any further instructions. However it soon becomes apparent that something strange is going on in the bar and it's related to drugs. Daphne then finds herself coming face to face with Darius, her ex-lover, who is with a woman. She retaliates but starting to talk to a handsome man at the bar, who introduces himself as Fitz, and it's whilst she is talking with Fitz that a woman overdoses in a strange way in front of everyone and dies.
The Darkwings are tasked to find the source of the drug, susto, which is extremely dangerous and seems to be being targeted to rich young people. Daphne receives evidence that Fitz is somehow involved and so continues her friendship with him in order to find out more. With the help of her fellow vampires they discover that the drug manufacturing hierarchy goes very close to the top of the US Government - can they shut down the manufacturing process before the deaths become an epidemic?
Daphne is a very interesting character; she's over 500 years old and she reminisces in this book about her relationship with Lord Byron as well as mentioning other famous names from history (including her father, Pope Urban VII). As a vampire she is able to turn into a giant bat which she and her fellow Darkwings use for surveillance and she also has to keep out of sunlight but the other usual vampire abilities (super-human strength, glamour) don't seem to be available to these characters.
However, despite the promising setting and the drug mystery plot this book was disappointing. Firstly the Darkwings seem remarkably amateur at spying and sleuthing, driving around in noticeable cars, flying around as huge bats when they can be seen, fortunately overhearing vital information which one imagines true criminals would actually keep to themselves. I also thought it highly unlikely that the drug gang would have continued their work in the same location with all the clues they had received that they were compromised - but this would have spoilt the plot so they just carried on. The book is also significantly let down on characterisation - the people are wooden and stereotypical, they don't seem to learn much or change and we don't find out much about any of them. Daphne seems rather hopeless and lacking in street smarts for someone who apparently has genius level IQ and has lived for 500 years and the will she/won't she romances with Fitz and Darius don't really engage the reader, neither do the sex scenes with Darius which just seem to be fillers.
The end of the book leaves a few loose ends (will she end up with Darius or Fitz, the mystery Don Manuel, the real way to overcome the susto drug) which I presume lead on to the next book in the series. However unless it's rather better than this book in terms of characters, plot and depth, it's unlikely to be one I'd bother to read.
Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book www.curledup.com, © Helen Hancox 2007