how to defy a vampire coverRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel


When Finn and Alexei stumble across a murder scene, it is carnage like they haven’t seen in a long time. It appears an incredibly strong vampire has attacked another group of vampires and left devastation in his wake. It is hard to imagine anyone stronger than Marcus, but this vampire seems to have speed and strength beyond what they have ever seen. Even worse, it soon becomes clear that the vampire, Ender, is connected to Marcus’ past.

The team knows Ender is attacking other vampires, but no one is quite sure why. Marcus has always been tight-lipped about his past, but now he seems even more reluctant to talk about how he knows Ender and some of the other vampires. But as Ender continues to hunt vampires in the city, Marcus has no choice but to share what he knows. Still, no matter what they do, the VRC just doesn’t seem like they are a match for Ender’s abilities and he keeps one step ahead of them.

Further complicating the situation is that the vampire Council has taken an interest in Finn and he isn’t sure why. Particularly when they want to know more about Finn’s history with Watson, bringing up painful memories Finn had hoped not to have to revisit. And when Finn lands on Ender’s radar as well, things are even worse. Now, Finn and Marcus have to stop Ender, all while staying out of the Council’s reach, not to mention hoping Marcus’ overprotectiveness doesn’t have him killing anyone who looks at Finn wrong. But as the truth begins to be revealed as to what is really going on, the situation is even worse than they feared.

How to Defy a Vampire is the fifth book in Alice Winters’ Vampire Related Crimes series. After the past two books focused on other couples, this book brings us back to Finn and Marcus, who are the heart of the series for me. This one is a bit of a hard one to describe without giving too much away about Ender, what he is after, what the Council wants with Finn, etc, so I am keeping things pretty vague. But the case itself is really interesting and twisty. There are a lot of turns and we don’t always know who to trust, or their motivations, and it all unfolds so nicely. While there is closure here for the immediate story, this book opens up some new directions for the series and there are some elements still to be explored. So I think this one is a nice transition book that really lays the groundwork going forward. I also liked getting some focus on Marcus and his past, as the first two books were more about Finn and the Watson situation. That said, this story also revisits Finn’s past as well and I think things tie together nicely, though it did refer some past story beats that I had some trouble remembering.

As I said, Marcus and Finn are the heart of these books and it is nice to see them here again as they are more settled in together. Aside from the usual humor and playfulness as Finn is a drama king and uses his adorableness to get what he wants from just about everyone, there are also some more serious notes. Marcus is up against someone stronger than him, someone he can’t easily protect Finn against. And Finn is forced to revisit things from his past that he had hoped to put behind him. So Winters does well giving some balance between the lighthearted side and more intense elements. I also loved the way Marcus, Finn, Claude, and Alexei have become a little family. Finn is sort of at the heart, as the only human and one who has the other three wrapped around his finger. Finn softens both Marcus and Alexei, and it is clear all three vampires would do anything for him. But there is also a nice sense of camaraderie and connection among the four of them that is really fun and enhances both the way they work on the case, but also their interactions with each other.

I found this story another great installment of the series. Winters is doing a nice job carrying through various threads while also introducing new mysteries and characters. I loved revisiting Finn and Marcus and am really excited to follow along as we see where the new revelations take us.

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