The third story in the Dorina Basarab series, Death's Mistress is Karen Chance's best work to date. A cannot put down book, it's an engrossing mix of mystery, suspense, action, adventure and a touch of romance.
Dorina, a dhampir (half human/half vamp), gets an unexpected visit from her friend Claire, the wife of a Fey prince, and her son, the Fey heir. Her son's life has been threatened and she is on the run to protect him. Dory agrees to help her find a missing magicial Fey amulet, which will protect Claire's son. Meanwhile, Dory's still taking rogue vampire hunting jobs for Mircea, her father--a powerful master vampire and senator. A war is on and the vampire senate agreed to outsource some of those jobs, resulting in a good business for Dory. While on a job, Dory runs into Louis-Cesare, a master vampire who worked a case with her previously (in Midnight's Daughter, the first book in the series). Louis-Cesare is still hunting his former mistress Christine, and her life has been threatened. They are surprised to hear that the same vampire Elyas who is holding Christine may also hold the amulet. So they agree to work together to accomplish both goals.
But then with many twists and turns, everything goes haywire! One Fey who last had the amulet was murdered and another who is suspected to know where it is is missing. Several vampires and a mage are also hunting for the powerful amulet, but Dory must find it first. Elyas the vampire is murdered and Louis-Cesare has been framed as the main suspect. His innocence must be proved, or else the senate will have him put to death. There is a lot of vampire politics in play, between the US and European senates, and everyone is hunting for Louis-Cesare while he tries to find the real killer. Meanwhile the powerful Fey Aeusbrand (who we saw in Midnight's Daughter) is back, fighting Dory and also after the amulet. The ending was a COMPLETE SURPRISE for me. Wow! I won't give a hint and ruin it, but let me just say that what a good mystery this was. I never, never suspected the real killer.
The world building was excellent, and I continue to enjoy Chance's characters--Mircea, Dory, Louis-Cesare, Claire, Caedmon, Marlowe, and even Stinky. I would have liked to see more of Caedmon and more interaction with Louis-Cesare. I'm hoping to see more of them in the next book. The Dorina series is a spin off from Chance's Cassie Palmer series, within the same world and sharing a few of the same characters. As a leading character, I like Dorina better than Cassie. She's stronger and more interesting. When reading the series, I think it's better to start with the Cassie series but you don't have to. If you read the Dorina series, don't miss the anthology in On the Prowl, which should be read between Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)and Death's Mistress. Another great read, it's focused on Claire's relationship with the Fey prince while they are on the run in Fey lands. You get to learn a lot about the Fey and what is happening with Claire while Dory searches for her in Midnight's Daughter.
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