3.5 starsVampires without the romance. Very refreshing. Well drawn historical setting in late 19th or early 20th century London and Paris. James Asher, a professor of philology at Oxford, and his wife Lydia, also a doctor, but of medicine, are reluctantly coerced into investigating the case of a serial vampire killer. Don Simon Ysidro, a Spanish vampire old enough to remember (and barely survive) the great London fire of 1666, forces James into his service by threatening Lydia's life. Rather than risking his wife's precarious safety and sending her into hiding, he recruits her help in tracking down both the vampire killer, and the vampire victims haunts and hidey-holes. Lydia pursues the research through probate courts, registrar of deed office, newspaper articles and other public records and resist's the siren call of the medical pathology mystery of vampirism while James accompanies Ysidro to interrogate London's undead citizens. All their combined efforts turn up clues that lead to a revelation and twist which I didn't see coming. I even re-read some of the early relevant scenes and could not see a clear foreshadowing of the mystery's resolution. Like all mysteries, I kept reading and turning pages because I wanted to know who did it, who the vampire stalker was. No terror gripped me, no character cried out to me, no scene compelled me yet good pacing and interesting characters led me down a path less travelled, especially by daylight. One of my misgivings surrounded James Asher. Even though he played the mild-mannered professor, his former life as a spy for the British Empire nagged at me. Some of the jargon of the spy trade and of his previous escapades seemed too modern and out of place for the times portrayed. Oddly, I readily accepted Lydia's pursuit of the medical profession, even in a patriarchal society. I've read many of Hambly's novels, and know she can make me shiver with goosebumps, the cold sweat of fear and visualize some truly horrific scenes and entities. This work just didn't quite reach that far, but I enjoyed the thrills of the ride nonetheless.