Thursday, May 8, 2008

Review: Art in the Blood (Vampire Files #4)

...when the career of a talented young artist is fatally cut short, I know I won't sleep easy in my coffin until I find the killer... ...dead artists can live forever. An undead detective may not be so lucky.

Art in the Blood, the fourth book in the Vampire File series, begins with journalist-turned -vampire detective, Jack Fleming, in the Chicago Stockyards feeding on his usual meal – cow’s blood. It is the year 1937, and gang lords run half the city. He cruises by the clubhouse, The Nightcrawler Club, where his man, Gordy, operates the joint. He is a tall and muscular figure, which gives him an advantage if he experiences any confrontation. Jack then tells Gordy what bothers him that night.

This story continues from the previous novel, Bloodcircle. Jack Fleming killed the woman who was behind the deaths of Maureen Dumont, Emily Francher, John Henry Banks and Jonathan Barrett. He is depressed because he murdered the person. He later stops home at Charles Escott, his British private agent friend, where he sometimes astonishingly vanishes and reappears like a ghost. That is enough to scare or choke Escott while he is eating his food!

Nevertheless, to keep his mind on the positive side, he attends an art gallery show with his showgirl lady, Bobbi Smythe. Marza Cheveraux and her friend, Madison Pruitt, are also there to support her. Pruitt is known for talking political matters. (Elrod introduces slang and historical tidbits such as communism, Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and Hitler’s invasions in Europe, to introduce readers to the 1930s.) The art gallery mansion on the north shore of Chicago belongs to the artist, Leighton Brett, and his fiancee, Reva Stokes.

As Fleming walks around outside, he notices a group of men are playing some crap games. One of the men, Evan Robley, used loaded dice and was later exposed of his cheating. Jack saves the young man just in time from being a dead fish in the fountain. He finds out that Evan is a painter. At the party, Jack meets Evan’s sister, Sandra, and another famous painter, Alex Adrian. He has not commissioned any paintings for quite some time, which disturbs the other painters because his wife committed suicide several months ago. Suddenly, Jack must rescue Evan from another brawl and carries him home. But some gang lord’s goons were already at Evan’s flat to give him a physical lesson. Since Jack is a vampire, his strength is twice as strong and easily kicks them out.

Evan Robley and his sister move in with Adrian for safety reasons. Obviously, Evan owes a man a major debt and his life is at stake. Adrian agrees to commission Fleming a portrait of his lady, Bobbi, at his place. It has been several months since Adrian has done a painting for a magazine or individual customer. His wife, Celia, is said to have committed suicide by leaving the motor running in the garage door closed while she sat with the windows open. Some rumors however state that Adrian’s wife suffered a homicidal death. Jack Fleming hunts for clues through various sources like the popular newspaper journalist, Barb Steler, to determine what really happened to Adrian’s wife.

Suddenly, Evan’s sister, Sandra, is found murdered in a pool of blood. Evan, in serious distress, cannot aid Fleming or Adrian. The police chief, Lieutenant Blair, arrives a the scene. Escott and Fleming decide to check out the southside of Chicago. Escott wears his bullet-proof vest because it’s about to get wild. They find Alex Adrian tied up in a noose in an unconscious state, and meets the ganglord that has harassed Evan. Fleming rescues Adrian from near death, but the search for who killed Sandra Robley still remains a mystery.

This book is one of P.N. Elrod’s most complex and chilling books in the Vampire Files series. There are many twisting storylines and developments on numerous characters – new and old. I had so much information to comprehend! I highly recommend readers to consider the previous three novels Bloodcircle, Lifeblood, and Bloodcircle because this novel involves a lot of flashbacks. It is not as fast-paced as her other books, which can be good or bad. This book only has 195 pages but the chapters are long and full of suspense. This is a true crime scene investigation novel: police, reporters, witnesses and alibis.

Stay tuned to the next book in the Vampire Files series, Fire in the Blood

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