Booklist Review

Shepard's new venture is a seamless blend of police procedural, gothic romance, and vampire yarn. The time period is circa 1860, and the old world settings, rich with fabulist overtones, are given a nice dusty feel by Shepard's skillfull utilization of narrative techniques associated with nineteenth-century fiction. Michel Beheim, once a Parisian police prefect, has survived a vampire bite (with the usual consequences) and has subsequently been inducted into the Family, a secret society of the immortal creatures whose dark history dates back thousands of years. Beheim is called upon to resurrect his skills and ferret out a murderer whose crime, the unauthorized "decanting" of the blood of a ceremonial victim, threatens the Family's fragile balance of power. Shepard's understated eroticism and his interspersed polemics on the "inhuman" condition add flair and substance to this remarkable book. The author's previous work, a collection of stories entitled The Ends of the Earth, received the 1992 World Fantasy Award.


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