An elderly academic is murdered. In his death throes, he leaves a cryptic message intended for a young female relative. This coded message sends the young female relative and an attractive male academic on a treasure hunt across Europe. They discover a secret that casts new light on religious history and on the female lead’s genealogy, fall in love, and are pursued by both legal authorities and criminal goons. You may be thinking you’ve read this book before. Piper Maitland adds a vampire twist to the formula, but I could never quite shake that Da Vinci Code feeling. Of course, we all have our favorite tropes, and one reader’s “unoriginal” is another reader’s “comfortable like an old shoe.” If the idea of The Da Vinci Code with vampires appeals to you, then Acquainted with the Night is the book you’ve been waiting for. For me, though, the clichés hampered the reading experience.
Maitland does, however, flesh out the two central characters, Caro and Jude, more fully than many thriller characters are developed. For the most part, this is a positive. There’s a stretch in the middle of the book where both leads become annoying — their romance sours, he’s being a bigot, she’s trying to wheedle him into a reconciliation — and I didn’t like either of them much for a while. But overall, the two protagonists work well. I also enjoyed the vampire tycoon with a soft spot for our heroine, his dog, and modern-day goth rock. After meeting the other vampires in the novel, most of whom are evil and gross, he made a nice change. He’s manipulative, sure, but he’s interesting!
Acquainted with the Night is filled with action; the chase scenes and double crosses will keep the pages turning. Unfortunately, it ends on more of a “the story is just beginning” note than one might expect of a 500+ page book, and the unoriginal elements make the story predictable in places. Depending on your tastes, Acquainted with the Night could be a good popcorn book but, ultimately, it’s forgettable.