Heartless

Alison Gaylin, Author . NAL/Obsidian $21.95 (323p) ISBN 978-0-451-22497-2

Occult horror meets chick-lit suspense in Gaylin’s entertaining if formulaic fourth novel. When investigative journalist Steve Sorenson hears that his best friend, celebrity reporter Zoe Greene, has fallen for soap opera star Warren Clark and is ditching Manhattan for Warren’s home in San Esteban, Mexico, Steve is alarmed not just because he’s secretly in love with Zoe. Not long before in San Esteban, a town full of expat hippies involved in a longevity cult, Sangre Para La Vida (“blood in exchange for life”), a visiting NYU student had his heart ripped out. As Zoe’s idyllic romance with Warren unravels in Mexico, certain locals show too much interest in Zoe’s blood. Zoe’s attendance at a scary SPLV party leads to a breathless finale. Avoiding the standard vampire twist, Gaylin (Trashed ) opts for Aztec hoo-doo to keep the action hopping in a tale both shocking and silly about the pursuit of eternal youth and romantic obsession. (Sept.)