Darkess Calls, by Caridad Piñeiro

>> Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Caridad Piñeiro was kind enough to send me her book, Darkness Calls, herself, and I'm glad to report that I really, really liked it!

FBI Agent Diana Reyes has learned the hard way how to master the darkness, but it will tempt her again when she is forced to go undercover to solve a serial killer case and meets Ryder Latimer, the enigmatic owner of the nightclub where the murders have occurred. Ryder is not what he appears to be, but something about him calls to Diana and makes her take a dance with him along the edge. That dance is both erotic and soul shattering. Ryder draws her into his world, which he regrets. Humans after all, are born to die. Ryder also knows that Diana is not prepared to discover a truth more scary than the identity of the serial killer -- that he is actually a one hundred and forty year old vampire. The race is on to find the killer before he strikes again and before Diana loses her heart to Ryder.
Darkness Calls hit the spot for me. I wasn't in the mood for light-hearted comedy or overblown melodrama, so this dark and gritty vampire story was exactly what I wanted. My grade: a B+.

The darkness of the story and setting was one of the things I enjoyed the most about the story. It was excellently done. Piñeiro's New York had a bit of a Gotham City feel to it, and Ryder's club, which in someone else's hand could have felt way over-the-top, lent an extra layer to the scenes of Diana undercover trying to lure our serial killer.

The book's other strength was its main characters. I very much enjoyed Diana, a kick-ass heroine who was much more than a plastic action hero. This is a woman who can take care of herself and of others. And the best thing is that Piñeiro didn't try to make her more "feminine" by making her a weak and unprofessional. She does fall for Ryder, and makes herself vulnerable to him (so does Ryder), but she does so without compromising who she is.

Ryder was a fascinating hero, too. I really liked that he wasn't one of those all-powerful vampires, maybe like Feehan's Carpathians, who can fly, shapeshift and whatever. He was more human, and that made his struggle with his "animal" side and his loneliness much more affecting. It all felt more real here. Ryder's vampirism doesn't have a whole elaborate mythology behind it. He doesn't seem to even know other vampires, so his being a vampire seems to be... I don't know how to describe it, less "magical", I guess, than in other books. All he knows about himself is what he's been able to discover himself and with the help of the Danvers, the family who have taken on the responsibility of caring for him through the years. I was actually even a little bit surprised by what happened when he bit Diana and the bite healed quickly. That was an unexpected touch of magic.

The ending wasn't perfect. I would have prefered to be more sure about what was going to become of them, what their life would be like. Still, a little bit of mystery there didn't bother me all that much. I can imagine the conclusion I'd like :-)

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