Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The Best Vampire Book You've Never Read
Now that my credentials as vampire expert are in order, believe me when I say that the Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod is the absolute best vampire book series you've never heard of. Why? I'll tell you why. P.N. Elrod has created one of the best vampires I've ever read short of Lestat de Lioncourt and a fabulously real world for him to exist in.
P.N. Elrod's vampire hero started out life as just a down on his luck journalist in 1920s era Chicago until he wakes up undead one night in a river with no idea how he got there or who killed him. His name is Jack Fleming and he's down on his luck more often than not. Being undead doesn't put too much of a kink in his life, it's the mobsters that want him to spill his secrets that really bother him.
Jack Fleming is a wonderful character. He's smart, snarky, clever and romantic. He's also slightly tormented, like all vampires are. Since his journalism career is cut short, he teams up with an adorably British actor-turned-detective, Charles Escott. Together, they try and navigate the seedy underworld of Prohibition Chicago, trying to find Jack's murderer and his maker. Escott and Jack combine forces and become private investigators for hire. Later on, Jack even finds a girlfriend; a beautiful and whip-smart bombshell of a nightclub singer named Bobbi Smythe. Strong female character? Hell yes please! Bobbi is no damsel in distress and it's glorious.
One of the best parts about the series is how believable it all sounds. P.N. Elrod writes about 1920s Chicago like she was actually there to experience it. From the way characters talk, to the way they drive their cars and wear their hats, it's all completely pitch perfect for the time period. I got sucked into the stories of mobsters, speakeasies and crime almost as much as I got sucked into the vampire plotlines. Even the mobsters seem real and no character is a Hollywood caricature of what a mob's moll or a hitman should be. It's entirely unique and I loved every illegal gin-drenched second of it.
The books have everything you could want. Vampire violence, mystery, romance and a few laughs along the way. Jack Fleming excels as both a vampire and a private eye. While his own mysteries may or may not be solved, you can beat he'll get to the bottom of whatever case he has. He looks dashing as he dashes away from tommy guns. He laughs heartily in the face of danger before running like hell (he's undead, not stupid).
The series is currently eleven books long, with various short stories and novellas scattered in anthologies or on her website. The single edition paperbacks are long out of print (which made finding them all an adventure in eBay and used book sales) but luckily for you, they've all been released as shiny, giant omnibus editions.
Do you like vampires? Are you tired of the Sookie Stackhouses and Bella Swans of the world stealing the thunder of actually awesome vampires? Do you just love a good adventure story? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to read The Vampire Files by P.N. Elrod.
Knock three times on the back alley door and tell 'em Meghan B, the Vampire Queen sent 'ya.