Playing With Matches
by Mardi Ballou, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-234-3

Tanith Kalinski, our cop heroine of Playing With Matches, has a thing for vampires. Don't worry, in this story vampires exist, so it's not like we are talking about a delusional Goth crackhead with terrifyingly easy access to firearms. Our hero, Gabe Marrow, used to be human, until he was at the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up being turned into a vampire. While these two meet and connect in a lot of ways, they also have to deal with the spillover of the events that led to Gabe being a vampire, one that involves smuggled firearms and corrupt cops.

Playing With Matches is a much better paced story, with Ms Ballou this time around exhibiting a pretty good sense of priority as she makes every word count in this story. The sex scenes and the subplot complement each other without the sex scenes overwhelming the plot too much. The mystery subplot isn't particularly memorable, but given the length of this short story, it is adequate. The characters are quite superficial, but again, given that this is a short story, they will do.

My biggest reservation here is how unsatisfying a cop Tanith turns out to be. She is too emotional and she seems incapable of separating her personal life from her professional one. She's twisted with jealousy by the last few chapters leading to the denouement, which doesn't reflect well on her abilities as a cop.

Playing With Matches could have been better in my opinion, but still, it is a pleasant short story as it is.

Rating: 75

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