Kitty and The Dead Man’s Hand
Published 2009 282 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Already the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben now plan to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping froufrou drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV, but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters.
Elsewhere on the Strip an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harbouring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.
Kitty and The Dead Man’s Hand is the fifth outing for Carrie Vaughn’s werewolf DJ heroine Kitty Norville. Previous books in the Kitty series have followed Kitty’s development from a newly-turned scared submissive werewolf to her rise as Alpha of the Denver pack. Along the way Kitty has been publicly outed as a werewolf and there have been supernatural adventures, fights for survival, mysteries and romance – all of it leading up to the wedding of Kitty and Ben in Las Vegas. For this reason readers new to this series would do best not to start here but to read the books in order, starting with Kitty and The Midnight Hour.
Kitty and The Dead Man’s Hand sees Kitty and Ben plan to get married in Las Vegas. Once the producers of Kitty’s now successful late night radio talk show find out that she’s going to Vegas they propose the idea of her doing a live televised version of her talk show while she’s there. Before too long Kitty’s wedding plans are whittled down to an afternoon in a week-end spent working on her live show.
Upon arrival in Vegas, Kitty and Ben check into their hotel to find that it’s also hosting a large gun show. As a werewolf Kitty has an entirely reasonable dislike of firearms. Finding out that half of America’s werewolf hunters are in town for the convention is just another reason for her to be nervous, since those guys know to pack silver bullets. It’s fairly obvious to see where the gun show plotline is going to end up and the werewolf hunters take the predictable route when they set their (gun) sights on Kitty.
Since Kitty’s talk show is all about the supernatural as soon as she gets to Vegas she starts looking for local supernatural talent to appear on her show. She soon discovers Odysseus Grant, a magician on the Strip who act appears to be well, magic, and an animal/magic spectacular fronted by Balthasar, King of Beasts (think Siegfried and Roy but sexy) where all the performers are lycanthropes. Kitty’s digging soon stirs up a host of nasty problems and when Ben mysteriously goes missing its up to Kitty to find out who her enemies and her allies are in a town where nothing is quite what it seems.
On the surface, Kitty and The Dead Man’s Hand sounds like a typical Kitty adventure – mystery, danger and supernatural thrills. What’s not to like? Well, unlike the previous Kitty books there is just something missing from Dead Man’s Hand. The story feels rushed, almost not-quite-finished, and at 282 pages it is shorter than usual. The plot never quite adds up and explanations for the mysteries Kitty uncovers are disappointing. For example, Odysseus magics her to another world, naturally curious Kitty asks:
“What’s in there?”
“Have you ever read Lovecraft?”
He made a wry face. “Never mind then.”
And with that the other world is dismissed from Kitty’s and the reader’s imaginations. Only it wasn’t dismissed from this reader’s imagination and I still want to know what’s in there!
Given the skill with which Carrie Vaughn has crafted previous Kitty novels Dead Man’s Hand seems to be a very average effort. The plot is disjointed making it hard to maintain interest through-out the story. Above all, Dead Man’s Hand ends with a cliff-hanger ending that suggests the story isn’t over yet - making the book seem like the first instalment of a longer story. It isn’t a bad book - it’s just not as good as it could have been. Either way, established fans of this series will need to read this book because it sets the stage for book six, Kitty Raises Hell, which is in no way average…
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