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Vampire Bytes: A Catherine Sayler Mystery    by Linda Grant order for
Vampire Bytes
by Linda Grant
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 1999 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback
*   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This was my first introduction to P.I. Catherine Sayler - the title Vampire Bytes intrigued me. There is a murder - of the programmer of vampire fantasy game Cult of Blood - and the disappearance of a teenage girl, involved with him in a real-life role-playing game based on the same creatures of the night. The story is set in San Francisco and Catherine's ex-hippy lover Peter (also an investigator), partner Jesse and spirited live-in niece Molly all get in on the action.

Members of the task force of police investigators and the obsessed Reverend Seaton see satanism everywhere. They assume that teens have been taking their role-playing too far, and that a vampire wannabe got carried away by his or her fantasy life. Both Catherine and Detective Lou Martin see other possibilities and share a concern for the safety of the young woman, who disappeared the night of the murder. This teenager, Chloe, and her vampire persona, Lisa, are the most interesting personalities in the book.

It's an unusual idea, and the author introduces intriguing subcultures of both game developers and teen role-players. The mystery itself is a bit pedestrian, cop naiveté strains credibility and the characterization is not strong, but Vampire Bytes is a good one to sink your fangs into for a few hours of escapist Halloween reading.

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