A murder has been committed, the body found in the foyer of Nightlife – an up and coming restaurant for both humans as well as the more nocturnal portion of society (mostly vampires). The incident is certainly unfortunate, not only for the very-dead victim but also for Nightlife owner Charlotte Cain. Charlotte’s entire life is that restaurant, which she has built from the ground with her vampire brother, Chet. She has devoted herself to her culinary art and finds no greater satisfaction than pleasing and healing those around her through food. Even vampires. She can make animal blood into a gourmet feast. And while she, herself, is not a vampire, Charlotte is sympathetic to the vampire cause of being accepted into society as a sub-culture with equal rights. She has to be, considering her involvement in her own brother’s ‘change’ … but that is only one of several mysteries running through this book.
The primary mystery is, of course, why the *#($ there is a body in the foyer of her restaurant! Charlotte will go to any length to solve this case on her own (the police being a bit more of a hindrance than an asset with all their personal, finger pointing questions). Unfortunately the answers she finds seem to lead to a ‘who done it’ that is far too close to home. The fun part about this book is that Zettel will have you guessing at the true intent of all the supporting characters right along with Charlotte until the very end.
A Taste of Nightlife is one of those amusing escape reads that introduces you to characters who instantly become your friends. Their intrigues become your intrigues. Their crushes become your crushes. In particular I am referring to my new friend, Charlotte. Charlotte is sort of like Sookie Stackhouse meets Julie Powell (of Julie and Julia. Different genre, I know but its where my mind went when deciding the perfect depiction of this character). Except I liked her infinitely more than either of these other two other female characters who both tend to be over-the-top while Charlotte is just that believable sort of right. She has spunk and wit and a perfectly relate-able countenance. And though this book is an amusing escape read, it is also well layered in its mystery which is woven with twists and schemes
Simultaneously Zettel was able to present the reader with a world that is, basically, our own but with subtle differences infused into culture due to the “out of the closet” presence of what we would consider supernatural beings – vampires, werewolves, and warlocks. Natural tensions are present as would be with any new or immigrant population. Especially the type of immigrant population that might consider the normal humans a nice midnight snack.
But most vampires are trying to get beyond the stereotype. Some, such as Anatole, are even a tempting date for daring girls such as Charlotte. Perhaps not as tempting, though, as Brendan – warlock in shining armor that he is. Zettel has built a great love triangle in these three.
I picked up A Taste of Nightlife for one reason only – a complete trust in author Sarah Zettel. She’s one of my favorites and even though I’m less than a fan of the vampire genre in general, I couldn’t help but check out her new book. I’m very glad I did. This book could make the non-vampire loves and the Charlaine Harris lovers come together on a middle ground and enjoy a full 8 course meal together while we’re all there.
I eagerly await Zettel’s sequel to this delectable mystery, Let them Eat Stake.
Still curious? Stay tuned for the author interview to come!