Key to Conspiracy

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Key to Conspiracy

Gillian Key has been called up by the US Marines. She is a Captain in their reserve forces and serves as a psychologist in a special multi-species operative team. They have been called to Russia to break up a child trafficking ring. While beginning their mission, they are approached by an unexpected and unlikely ally, the Brownies.
Brownies are very small creatures, usually no more than 7 inches tall. They are not known for their loyalty or usefulness yet they seem really wanting to help. The problem is finding something that they can do.
The team Gillian works with is made up of a couple of human females, a vampire, a couple of shape shifters and an elf. They have all worked together previously and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. After this mission, they will all split again to do their own thing. Gillian is looking forward to returning to Romania and her new vampire lover, Aleksei Rachlav. While on this mission, Gillian learns that unless she blocks him out, Aleksei can talk to her telepathically.
On her way back to Romania with a couple of friends and teammates, Gillian is diverted to England. Inspectors for London Yard want to question her. In a previous visit to London, Gillian meet up with a vampire known as Jack the Ripper. While Gillian got away from him and was able to free some captives Jack held, she is unable to accurately describe him due to his ability to blur his image.
But Gillian being in London has Jack trying to kill her once again making Gillian start a mad dash across Europe with two inspectors and a couple of friends in tow. During their dash, they are asked to investigate a series of killings in France. There they meet a cursed count and his wife and while they are able to quickly solve who is doing the killings, they are also meet by Jack and his followers. With chaos reigning will Gillian be able to evade Jack once again or will he be able to finally trap and kill her?
This is the second book in a series. They are written to be stand-alone but I found that I had more questions about what happened previously than I had answers. Much of the book refers back to a previous book and while it alludes to what happened, I didn’t really grasp the motivation behind some of the events nor the relationships between certain characters. I finished this book with the feeling that the story while okay would have made more sense and been more enjoyable if I had read the previous book.
Several times I found myself confused by events that were happening. The book started off with a military mission but quickly became a civilian investigation with paranormal overtures. While a mission concerning the escape of Aleksei’s brother from Jack was mentioned several times giving me the impression that this was why Jack wanted to kill Gillian, I’m not sure exactly what happened and why. Eventually, I was able to discern that Dracula recruiting an Army to take over the world and Jack was a head vampire. Gillian is obviously against this take over. The only purpose I could figure out for the French investigation was so Jack had time to catch up with Gillian and company. I had problems figuring out the purpose and reasoning behind several events.
Gillian came across as a strong, fairly well developed character. She had a depth that gave you an understanding of her motives and reactions. She interacted with the other characters in a manner that would be consistent with how she was portrayed. 
The other characters in this book were not as well developed. You got a feeling for them but not the whole person but more like a slice of their life. For the most part, this was enough. Most of the characters were only in supporting roles.
I liked the idea of this story…..Dracula gathering the evil forces to take over the world while those that oppose him are trying to form a plan to resist him. Maybe because this is a second book, it was used to bridge the introduction and the start of the fight. This may explain why this book didn’t seem to flow naturally and easily. Still, I liked the characters and I was intrigued enough to want to read more. If this author can get this story into an easy to follow sequence, I think this series will be a fun one to read.

Book Blurb for Key to Conspiracy

The "kick-ass blonde vampire-therapist" (ROSEMARY LAUREY) from a "fascinating new alternate reality" (ROBIN OWENS, AUTHOR OF HEART DANCE) returns.

From the author of Key to Conflict.

In northern Russia after a devastating earthquake, paramortal psychologist and Marine Special Forces operative Gillian Key helps break up a ring of child traffickers preying on newly orphaned children. But away from Count Aleksei Rachlav, the irresistible vampire she left behind, Gillian is vulnerable to the Dark Prince himself-Dracula-who would like nothing more than to use her as a pawn in his escalating war with Rachlav.

Night Owl Reviews Nov, 2008 3.75