Sparkle Hayter, Author . Three Rivers $13 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4743-7

Fans of Hayter's wild Robin Hudson mystery series (The Last Manly Man) may be surprised by Annie Engel, Manhattan legal secretary by day, werewolf by night. Unlike sleuthing hipster Robin, 20-something Annie is clueless and not half as entertaining as the supporting cast and clever plot in this witty but uneven supernatural mystery. She leads a self-declared boring life, mourning a lost romance and working for the monolithic Synergy Enterprises. Boring, that is, if you don't count her turning into a werewolf at night and committing mayhem, including the murder of a Synergy executive (her lupine nose catches a whiff of his rotten soul). Annie isn't aware of her nocturnal exploits, but the city is buzzing about the strange serial murders, and soon several people are trailing her. One of them is the comically inept Sam Deverell, an over-the-hill former TV anchor now working as a Citywide Cable News overnight reporter ("the newsroom equivalent of an ice floe"). Another is Dr. Marco Potenza, head of the underground Center for Lycanthropic Metamorphic Disorder, dedicated to helping "people living with LMD." As a psychiatrist from a long line of werewolves who've mastered the art of controlling their urges via drugs and hypnotherapy, Potenza wants to rehabilitate Annie. But his former assistant and enemy, Jim Valiente (now a "free werewolf" indulging his wild side), is determined to keep Annie far from Potenza's clutches. The madcap antics make this book a pleasure, though readers will wish that the passive Annie had a more forceful role. Hayter's writing is sharp, but she needs a stronger heroine for the book to really howl. 3-city author tour. (May 27)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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