The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly is an ARC I received from NetGalley. It won't be released until March 2014, but I liked it enough to read and review the first in the series.
Those Who Hunt the Night (James Asher, Book 1) was the Locus Award winner for the Best Horror Novel of 1989. Open Road Media republished it in 2011.
The series is named for James Asher, apparently a mild-mannered professor of Linguistics and Folk Lore at Oxford, but in reality a former spy in Her Majesty's secret service, acquainted with violence and subterfuge, a necessary skill set for the novel.
Although the series is named for James, his wife Lydia often holds the spotlight. An heiress, Lydia caused a family uproar when she insisted on attending Oxford and most scandously, on becoming a doctor, then risked being disinherited by marrying James, who lacked the appropriate social standing. (After James married Lydia without the promise of the money, Lydia's father dis-disinherited her, but the entire family still disapproved.)
The vampires that Hambly imagines are neither sympathetic nor sexy; they are skilled predators who, despite their quickness and strength, are strangely vulnerable if their true identities are revealed. The sex appeal of the vampire is only a hunting mechanism, a means of luring prey. They survive not only by blood, but by the psychic element of swallowed death...so to speak. No nice vampires choosing to drink cautiously, because blood alone in not enough.
When London vampires are murdered, Don Simon Ysidro (a vampire since 1588) approaches James and, with the threat to Lydia, forces James to aid in the search for the killer.
With Lydia as James' hostage to fate, Don Simon and James pursue through the killer through the London of 1907.
Don Simon is a fascinating character: Old World, cultivated, intelligent, and snobbish, but he retains a little of the character of his former self, and he works well with James. Without Don Simon's knowledge, James has enlisted Lydia's help with research while trying to keep anyone from being aware of their contact.
Although I wasn't as pleased with the revelation of the source of the evil stalking the vampires (and that evil took more human lives than vampire lives), the novel provides hours of good reading and three compelling protagonists.
I read Hambly's Renfield: Slave of Dracula for the 2007 R.I.P. Challenge, and I liked the way Hambly expanded on Bram Stoker's Dracula.
I liked The Kindred of Darkness enough to begin reading the series, and I liked Those Who Hunt the Night enough to continue with the next in the series.
Mystery/Supernatural. Orig. publ. 1989; republ. 2011. 350 pages.