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Ritual: Vampire Beach    by Alex Duval order for
by Alex Duval
Order:  USA  Can
Pulse, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Ok, the title drew me in, I admit it, along with the cover sound bite that tells us 'Biting's out. Killing's in.' But, aside from the existence of rather benign vampires, there's nothing particularly paranormal about Vampire Beach: Ritual.

The hero, Jason Freeman, has moved from chilly Michigan to DeVere Heights, Malibu, where the elite - in looks, wealth, and lifestyle - happen to be vampires (something that Jason discovered in the series debut, Bloodlust). He also fell hard for one of them, the lovely Sienna, who unfortunately already had a boyfriend - another vamp named Brad. Complicating Jason's love life is the fact that Brad is now his close friend and teammate.

It all begins with a warning at the Arcana Psychic Fair, which Jason visits under duress when his sister Dani needs a drive - he's warned of great danger and to 'bevare of the cold'. Soon, after jogging on the beach, Jason's shot in the chest - and almost in the heart - with a crossbow bolt. As the police investigate, other students are shot and die, and Jason's friend Adam postulates that the serial killer is a vampire hunter.

While all this goes on, and Jason slowly recovers from his injury, he's given the cold shoulder by previous friends, who blame him for Sienna's breaking up with Brad. Suspense builds as the killer seeks more victims, and Jason finally figures out whodunit - almost too late. Vampire Beach: Ritual is an engaging, easy read, which I categorize as a cross between murder mystery and jock lit.

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