Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: Cold Streets (Vampire Files #10)

“Bullets will fly. Blood will flow. And it will become clear that the simple life of a club owner is not in the cards for a vampire with a thirst for justice.”

Cold Streets, by P.N. Elrod, is the tenth book in the Vampire Files series. It is January 1938, winter Chicago. Six months have passed since his disturbing encounter with the mob and the discovery of a murdered woman. Multiple events have delayed the grand opening of his new nightclub, Lady Crymsyn. He enjoys his life as a vampire. He’s one of the good guys with a heart for justice -— and blood. He aids his best friend and colleague, Charles Escott, British private agent, in investigating and solving difficult cases.

Jack returns to his club where we meet reoccurring characters: Bobbi Smythe, his girlfriend who has aspirations for Hollywood; Gordy Weems, major Chicago mob boss, owner of the Nightcrawler Club and one of Jack’s best friends; Adelle Taylor, multi-talented actress and now performer at Lady Crymsyn; and Myrna, from the previous novel, the club resident ghost, who warns Jack of trouble. Now, he meets two new people, who want to work at his place: Faustine Petrova, Russian ballerina dancer, and Roland Lambert, her American partner, from war-intensifying Europe. However, New York mob boss, Hog Bistrow, drunk and boorish, has some dangerous business to settle with Gordy. Why at the Lady Crymsyn? Growing tensions seem to be looming in the air.

The man behind the kidnapping of Sarah Gladwell has Jack fearing for his (undead) life. How can Dugan resist his hypnosis? Is the man insane or not even human? Dugan knows Jack’s supernatural abilities, and Fleming will do anything to prevent this guy from exposing the truth. If things can’t get any worse, Hog’s crew guns down mob boss, Gordy, and Jack must race against the clock to save his best friend. It seems that Jack not only has his club to run but also has one of the largest gang territories in Chicago under his guidance. From newspaper journalist, private detective, jazzy club owner and now mob boss? Let’s just hope Jack survives this unprecedented rapid change in his already busy (supernatural)lifestyle.

Cold Streets is the tenth installment to the Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod. For newcomers, Jack Fleming became a vampire in 1936 in an unfortunate, merciless murder. How did he become a vampire? Even he doesn’t know but he has avenged his death. Since the first books—Bloodlist, Lifeblood and Bloodcircle—(I recommend reading these books and my reviews at the bottom of the page when possible), he has helped Charles Escott in several murder cases and later found enough cash to start his own business with the help of his closest friends. Along the series, Fleming discovers secrets unveiled to him in startling and upsetting ways. Cold Secrets continues the vivid imagery and action-packed excitement present in most Vampire Files novels.

Elrod includes historical tidbits and popular culture in this book to entertain and inform the readers about the 1930s. Fleming mentions Charles Lindbergh, the Lusitania ship (know your WWII history???), J. Edgar Hoover, and other insightful references to the time. Bobbi’s dress, with cartoon characters featuring Snow White, reminds the reader that ‘Snow White’ was one of the first Disney films in the 1930s. The most famous historical celebrity from this time mentioned is Al Capone of the 1920s and Prohibition era. He had, according to many mobs, left a legacy in Chicago with his bootlegging and how mobs were ran and operated. This story takes place just around World War Two, so Elrod is including more international affairs in her novels. I just wished Elrod didn't include so many new characters...you wonder if they're really important to digest.

While the character development is excellent throughout the novel, I’ve noticed how more sarcastic and unsure Jack Fleming has become. Maybe that was the accent/talk of his time (he can recognize Chicago and New York accents in a second. What is exactly a Chicago accent??). He is 37 years old in human years, although as a vampire, he looks much younger in his age. He almost has an episode with Bobbi by draining the life out of her. This reminded me of the fifth book, Fire in the Blood, when he almost kills a woman by taking too much blood. Near the end, the audience will witness Fleming’s greatest fear when his own life and those around him are in jeopardy. Elrod makes sure to make references from previous novels to create a continuous, upbeat narrative.

I have not read a novel so bloody, brutal and disturbing since the seventh novel, A Chill in the Blood. You see a different side of Jack--almost like a monster--in this story. The idea that a man knows Jack’s supernatural secret leaves more questions than answers: what will happen to Dugan? Will he try to kill Jack again? The ending is somewhat incomplete (I know, I had to keep re-reading paragraphs for I was in a state of shock. I didn't like the ending.) but leaves more excitement for the next book sequel in the Vampire files Series. Just like the character, Angela Paco, encompassed two books (Blood in the Water, A Chill in the Blood), I bet you that Dugan will be in the next book, but only this time, we hope Fleming will stay alive and complete his unfinished business.

Stay tuned for my next review on the eleventh novel in the Vampire Files series, Song in the Dark.

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