Monday, January 26, 2009

Review: Blood in the Water (Vampire Files #6)

“There’s a new crime boss in town and he’s gunning for a vampire. So are the police. Lucky me.

…when Chicago gets this hot, even a vampire can get burned.”

Blood in the Water, the sixth novel in the Vampire File series, is the sequel to Fire in the Blood. It is the year 1936 in gangland Chicago. Jack Fleming, our journalist-turned-vampire protagonist notices in his rear-view mirror that a car is following him. He tries to drive away to no avail. Frustrated, he stops the car and realizes it’s Vaughn Kyler’s chums, the crime lord who inherited Frank Paco’s territory in the previous novel. Kyler is a devious and ruthless snake, someone who will make your hair crawl all over your skin. Nonetheless, with his supernatural strength and abilities, Fleming can easily handle these men with no sweat!

When Jack Fleming returns back to the office of Charles Escott, British-born private agent, it is a serious wreck inside. Kyler’s men had beaten Fleming to the place as they ravaged he place looking for the diamonds-and-rubies bracelet, the very same jewelry that left four people dead in the previous novel. Jack chases the men out the house and finds Escott hiding in a trapdoor room fearing for his life. The two agree to find Kyler to settle this score once and for all.

The two men visit the International Freshwater Transport to meet Kyler and his men. Fleming investigates the place alone. He exchanges the bracelet to Vaughn Kyler, but suddenly realizes it was a setup. Chicago’s finest Lieutenant Blair and his undercover cops appeared there on the scene. With everything happening so fast, Jack quickly escapes the docks. He worries that his girlfriend, Bobbi Smythe, may also be in the same trouble. His fears became true: some of Kyler’s men were waiting at the Top Hot clubhouse.

Escott suggests that they should seek refuge at The Nightcrawler Club. This gives Jack and Bobbi painful flashbacks: Bobbi used to work for Slick Morelli, former club owner and a main character in the first novel (Bloodlist). It was Morelli who murdered Jack before he became a vampire. With nowhere else to hide, they hide at the clubhouse which is under the ownership of Gordy (a former Slick Morelli gang member). Jack then leaves to see if any of Kyler’s chums are waiting outside the club. As he walks away, he notices a car following behind him. Kyler's men quickly surround Jack with their cars and open the doors with their guns drawn. Just before they can shoot, a semi-truck stops in the area, the trailer doors open, and a mayhem of gunshots sings in the streets. Jack is pulled into the trailer quickly while most of Kyler’s men lied in pool of blood.

Jack, speechless by what he has seen, wonders who are these people who saved his life. The leader of the group is a woman and daughter of Frank Paco, Angela. While her youthful appearance makes her quite attractive, she has a heart as cold as any other crime boss. She is a foe of Vaughn Kyler, and knows that Fleming started the fire in the “laboratory” basement (Bloodlist). Escott rescues Jack and hurries back in his Nash before the break of dawn. On their way back, gunshots rattle over his car as they barely escape the rough streets of Chicago.

They find refuge with Escott’s old pal, Shoe Coldfield (Bloodlist), in a predominately black neighborhood where the police and Kyler’s men will not find them. The next evening, Jack ventures to Kyler’s Travis Hotel, his headquarters, to search the place and to hopefully meet Vaughn Kyler himself. However, Kyler was not inside the building and instead kidnaps Opal (Fire in the Blood), Kyler’s accountant, to get some significant information. The whole trip back to their refuge camp is hilarious as Jack is just plain mean to Opal. He tries to stays calm but he tells her to shut up!

Meanwhile, Jack tells Charles to watch Opal as she dozes off to sleep. Kyler suspects that Gordy’s men were behind the shootout that killed all but one of his men. Fleming rushes to Gordy’s place to find it in a police barricade. These were not ordinary cops – they were faux policemen working for Kyler and holding Gordy hostage behind his desk. With Jack’s supernatural skills such as hypnotism and invisibility, he follows the policemen back to Kyler’s second mansion.

As Fleming meets Kyler alone in his extravagant mansion, he notices that Vaughn Kyler is reading the book, The Invisible Man. Jack mentally laughs as he tries for one last time to connect to Kyler’s mind. Since the fourth novel, Fire in the Blood, Jack cannot order Vaughn around against his will because he has strong mind control. Unfortunately, his mugs, including Chaven, burst inside the room and fire away at Fleming. The bullets went through Jack's undead body and struck Kyler endlessly, killing him instantly. With so much shock and confusion, Jack vanishes and reappears in another room, shaken and distorted by what he has seen. Vaughn Kyler, the snake who made Jack’s life and his friends a living misery, is dead.

But things become more interesting. As Jack tries to escape from Kyler’s mansion, he stumbles across the ailing Frank Paco. Jack pities the man because he is now mentally ill. Kyler held Paco hostage, which is why Angela hastily wants her father back. Jack wastes no time with Paco as he leaves the place in one of Kyler’s Cadillac cars. He races back to the refuge, where he discovers that Angela Paco and her men had kidnapped Escott and Opal. With Coldfield and another man, they race to Frank Paco’s mansion to rescue them. As Jack finds Escott in a tortured state, he becomes dizzy and powerless.

Vampires have weaknesses? What do you think Angela Paco has under her sleeves? Does Jack ever rehabilitates himself after this crazy night? Check this novel out.

Wow! This book definitely resurrects the fifth book from bombing to the grave. At first, I was disappointed with the fifth book, Fire in the Blood, since it was a bland, almost endless story. Some parts of the book were so boring that I felt it was an unnecessary edition into the Vampire Files series.

After reading this book, I can truly appreciate and understand what Elrod was trying to portray. After all, you must read previous novel in order to understand book six! This book describes in greater detail (foreshadows) the situations Jack must face to get his life back together. He is in some messy stuff as he endures bullets, grenades, near-death experiences, vulnerabilities and unexpected danger to his close friends. If you like wild action, this is definitely the book for you!

We all think that Fleming, as a vampire, is superhuman to everything. Think again. Blood in the Water, similar to the second novel (Lifeblood), physically and emotionally describes Jack’s situations for survival. The humor is ingeniously and meticulously great by Elrod (I laugh because the characters, with a 1930s pop culture slang, are so funny). Nevertheless, this story really describes how tough and dangerous it was to live in Chicago.

As long as there’s awesome character development, humor, action and suspense, I will continue to be satisfied with this series. Please heed this warning: there are so many references to previous novels you must read them in order to fully understand the series. You may also buy the entire first six novels in Vampire Files I (Books 1-3) and Vampire Files II (Books 4-6) collections.

I have already published a review of the second novel, A Chill in the Blood, on this blog. Please check it out.

Stay tuned for my next review on the eight novel of the Vampire Series, The Dark Sleep.

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