Welcome to this week’s “meeting” of the Preternatura Book Club! Today, we continue with the first book in Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Halfway to the Grave.
Here’s how it works. Each week, I’ll post a summary (spoiler alert!) on two chapters, and we’ll chat about them. Try to minimize spoilers beyond what’s happened in the book we’ve read so far. You can read along, read ahead, or just stop by and read the summaries. After the Book Club has been up a few days, I’ll move it to archives so you can still come back and read. There’s a “Book Club” tab above. So, let’s get started!
HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE, CHAPTERS 5-6
When we last left Cat, she’d just been half-pickled in the cemetery with the moonshiner ghost, doing some investigative work for Bones. Now, we’re at week five in her training with him, and she’s gotten faster and stronger. Now it’s time for her makeover into a vamp tramp. To her horror, he takes her to Hot Hair Salon, where, for five hours, she was “washed, waxed, plucked, snipped, blown dry, manicured, pedicured, sloughed, exfoliated, curled, primped, and then covered in shades of makeup.”
Meanwhile, Bones has gone shopping and bought her some tramp clothes. Cat’s final assessment? “There is no way I’m going out in public like this.” He gives her another assessment before figuring out what she needs—to “take your knickers off.” She thinks this is a horrible idea, and he proceeds to push until he finally embarrasses her with a discussion of what a male vampire can and cannot smell on her.
Next, he takes her out and talks dirty to her. When he gets to a vivid description of oral sex, she’s so mortified she jumps up and threatens to run away. Finally, he talks her down, and they continue. Still, she lost the bet enough times to have to pay up by running through the woods—forty miles, in a thunderstorm.
She gets home, climbs in the bath, starts thinking unconsciously about what Bones promised (threatened?) to do to her, and she’s getting off on it till she realizes what she’s doing. She jumps out of the tub, crashes to the floor, and attracts the attention of her mom. Mom has decided it’s time to have a chat, reminding Cat of the “monster” inside her and how she can never have a normal life. She realizes she’s softening a bit on the monster business.
Finally, it’s time to go out. She has a watch with a pager in it in case she gets in trouble, and Bones has filled her in a little—but not too much—on the vampire they’re looking for. His name is Sergio, a 300-year-old, sadistic vampire with a taste for very young women. He says Sergio is worth $50,000 and Cat realizes Bones is a hit man (or, as he says, a bounty hunter).
We learn that Cat has also been checking into the supposedly dead girls whose names she got from the ghost—and some of them aren’t dead. Not sure what’s going on with that yet.
At the bar, Sergio comes in, spots Cat, and dislodges the old leering dude on the next stool. He feeds her some smarmy lines and she handles herself well. Bones has prepared her. After they get in his Mercedes she even delivers the classic line: “Kitty needs a tongue bath.” She crawls into the backseat and puts her arms around him, telling him, “come and get me.” So he bites her forearm. She stakes him in the neck, then manages to ram the other one in his back. They roll out of the car and Sergio gets in one good blow before Bones grabs him from behind. He wants to know where Hennessey is—the question scares Sergio. He finally tells Bones Hennessey is in Chicago Heights, south side of town. Bones throws the stake to Cat, and she kills Sergio.
So we’re getting into the guts (pardon the pun) of the story now. Lots of questions raised in these chapters—who is Hennessey, and why is he so scary? What’s the deal with the dead/not dead girls? And how long is Cat going to hold out before admitting she wants to jump Bones’ bones?