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The Vampire Files, Volume One Paperback – October 7, 2003
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"The twist and turns are reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep."
About the Author
P.N. “Pat” Elrod, best known for The Vampire Files and the Jonathan Barrett: Gentleman Vampire series, co-edited Time of the Vampires, and has stories in several other anthologies. A great fan of Forever Knight, she collaborated with actor Nigel Bennet (LaCroix) on Keeper of the King and His Father’s Son. She is currently working on a new set of toothy titles and branching into the mystery and science fiction genres.
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P.N. Elrod crafts a terrific story that continues to engage me no matter how many times I read the series. This collection of the first three short novels provides an excellent introduction to the world of 1930's Chicago, and to Jack Fleming, a former journalist who wakes up on a Lake Michigan beach one night to discover he's no longer human.
Jack co-habits the pages with a great cast of characters, including a Sherlock Holmes-style private eye, a spunky club singer, a couple mob bosses, and host of other characters. Elrod gives all of the characters depth, even the background characters.
The writing style and plot structures are reminiscent of the crime dramas of the '30's and '40's, which appeals to me.
My favorite of the three novels in Volume 1 is the third, which features a crossover with one of Elrod's other series and resolves many of the questions raised in the previous two novels.
If you like classic crime stories and/or vampire fiction, I highly recommend this book, and the rest of the series.
I am a big fan of urban fantasy and I really like it when the writer doesn't go too crazy with the fantasy part. The main character in this book who is a vampire is smartly written. Jack, the vampire, is a regular guy who finds himself as a vampire. He is as surprised as anyone. He isn't tortured or deeply screwed up. He has his inner demons like everyone else does, no more, no less. P.N.Elrod stayed away from the usual conflict of vampire characters - which is their thirst for blood and the ambiguity with how they have to get it. Jack just goes to the stock yard and drinks blood from the cattle. His isn't overcome by irresistible thirst for human blood. He doesn't have to exert super human restraint to not drink humans dry. He just has a normal hunger that gets satisfied easily and without much fanfare. I am so tired of vampire heroes being so conflicted. Also, Jack has very cool powers, especially his ability to vaporize and reappear. This is a unique power and used very creatively. Even with that said, Jack is a low-key character who isn't a big drama queen about his unique situation. He is likable, virtuous without being self-righteous, and very normal. And that normality is what makes his character so intriguing.
This volume is well worth the read if you are into urban fantasy.
Enter Jack Fleming, an out-of-work reporter in the 1936 Prohibition Era Chicago, who has *just* been killed and turned into a vampire in the very first page.
Now, because of the way vampirism works in this novel, there is no cliché moments of "Oh my god, I have become a monster," or "Oh no, I have to drink human blood to survive," or other similarly angst-filled scenes.
Instead, Jack's main concern -- aside from solving the cases at hand -- is how to lead as normal and human life as possible without being discovered for what he is. In fact, the characters in the novel treat Jack's vampirism like a peculiar (and very secret) medical condition, rather than a monstrous abomination that you would normally expect in a vampire story. And since Jack only just became a vampire, there is no usual "I am an immortal, I have witnessed history" element either. And while there is some sex, it's kept to a minimum because that's not what the story is about. Quite frankly, this book *almost* does not feel like a vampire novel at all.
And that's a good thing. It is quite refreshing to have a vampire story told without the usual trappings. Jack makes a charming and very sympathetic protagonist without the typical angst and drama associated with vampires, and I'm having a ball reading about his adventures.
Another good thing I'd like to mention: You probably already know that this is a three-books-in-one deal. But it reads like a one long story because the next "book" picks up almost immediately after where the previous book ended. I like that.
So why am I rating this book only four out of five stars? Two reasons:
1. As much as I like Jack Fleming, I'm finding his human friend Charles Escott to be a much, *much* more interesting character. I almost wish the story was told from his perspective instead of Jack's.
2. This is about the physical condition of the book. The glue that holds the cardboard paperback cover to the spine of the book is not very strong. I'm in the middle of reading the third story in the book, and the cover is literally a mere inch away from being completely detached. So far the pages themselves are fine, but I fear that the binding glue might fail for them too.
In any case, this is a solid and very entertaining work of vampire fiction. If Amazon allowed me to give half-star ratings, this book would definitely get a four-and-a-half-star rating from me.
For anyone who likes vampire stories but wants something different than the usual crop, I highly recommend this book. And I will soon be getting the second collection of Jack Fleming stories, The Vampire Files, Vol II.