Feb 8, 2008

Review of Second Jaz Parks Novel

Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin. Orbit, 2007

This second installment of the Jaz Parks series, finds Jaz and her CIA partners in Corpus Christi, Texas for the Winter Festival . A treacherous Chinese agent is in the area. He has stolen a secret weapon, one so dangerous that Jaz and her vampire partner Vayl, both highly gifted agents where the supernatural is involved, have been sent to Corpus Christi in order to retrieve the weapon - a near impossibility - or to keep Chien-Jung from using it - also close to impossible. Vayl, a vampire of the good guy variety and the agent in charge, decides that the group, which includes Bergman, a brilliant creator of gadgetry with little patience for most things supernatural, Cole, who is also a sensitive like Jaz and can detect troublemakers before anyone else can even see them, and Cassandra, a several hundred year-old psychic who knows a bit about casting spells.

Immediately after arriving in Corpus Christi Jaz encounters a demonic force which first impersonates its victim and then devours its soul. This entity, says Cassandra's mystical database, is difficult to kill, but when fighting this monster called a reaver, Jaz finds a way. A good swift sword thrust, for those who dare to get up close and personal, will do the job. There are other evil beings for Jaz and friends to overcome thanks to the brilliant imagination of author Jennifer Rardin. At the moment the top of the must-destroy list is Chien-Lung, the man who has now learned to use the stolen weapon. It is a biological suit designed for combat soldiers which will give them all the fearsome attributes of a fire-breathing dragon. The only way to regain the suit is to kill the wearer.

The novel's brisk pace propels the plot but still allows the reader to understand the interconnection of the characters and the personal baggage each brings to their job. This is especially true for narrator and heroine Jaz Parks. Throughout the story Jaz has blackouts accompanied by terrifying dreams that include sleep walking, often putting her in perilous situations. Each time, fortunately, someone like Cole or Vayl find her in time to save her. The dreams always concern her twin brother David blaming her for causing the death of his wife Jess as well as Jaz's fiancé Matt. So disturbing are the dreams for Jaz she must solve the mystery behind them before she can give proper attention to the current case.

The special connection Jaz has with Vayl strengthens. Since the moment she gave her blood to him, at a time of his desperate need, the intensity of their bond has grown. Although there is a sexual tension in the companionship they enjoy, it remains for now firmly in the background.

Through Jaz's barbed humor and salty language the reader is taken on a thrilling action packed adventure. Book three of the Jaz Parks series Biting the Bullet is available as of Feb. 2008.

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