Chill in the Blood, A

A Chill in the Blood
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 2-Nov-1998

A version of this review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 19 (Spring 1999). The Vampire's Crypt web site is:

P. N. Elrod. A Chill in the Blood. (The Vampire Files) Ace, June 1998; ISBN 0-441-00501-2; $20.95/$29.95. (Hardcover)

It's been a long six years since 1992, when the last Vampire Files title, BLOOD ON THE WATER, appeared, featuring good guy vampire Jack Fleming, private agent Charles Escott, and assorted mobsters and hoodlums of Depression-era Chicago. A CHILL IN THE BLOOD starts with Jack just having escaped the icy waters of Lake Michigan -- a situation he got into by having gotten on the bad side of unsavory characters in the area. It's a penchant that Jack has had for a while.

This time he's caught between rival mob leaders Angela Paco and Sean Sullivan. Followers of the Vampire Files will remember Angela from previous books; her father, Frank Paco, was behind Jack's death (if you can call it that). Jack discovered one of his vampire abilities at Paco's expense; Jack's losing his temper cost Frank Paco his sanity. Hot-tempered Angela (whom Jack describes as having "more ambition than Napoleon and twice the nerve") is devoted to her father and has been running his organization in his name while trying to find a doctor who can help him. Powers-that-be in New York, however, have sent Sean Sullivan to take matters out of the Pacos' hands by any means available.

Jack gets involved in the latest excitement when Angela Paco puts a contract on Charles; Jack steps in with his hypnotism to get it called off. His attempts to manipulate two of the town's crime bosses into getting rid of each other, however, lead him not only into predictable (if unpleasant) encounters with armed thugs and crooked cops, but into human adventures just as frightening in their own way. In trying to track down Angela, Jack takes Opal, her bookkeeper, under his wing, and finds himself forced to cooperate with the bad guys to keep her safe. And as if the territorial scuffles of the known mobsters aren't bad enough, there's a mysterious third party gumming up the works by attacking both sides - -- endangering Jack and Opal even further in the bargain.

Elrod continues to make the Vampire Files special by blending a heaping human element into the crime drama. Jack genuinely cares about people in a way that lets him realize when a man *needs* to beat the stuffing out of someone and when a smile is too fragile to withstand encouragement. His interest in geeky Opal is particularly touching. But balanced against this is the double danger of his vampirism, with its powers and needs, and the effects of his line of work -- too often he finds himself in situations where killing someone is the easy way out. His girlfriend Bobbi's warning that he has started down the slippery slope away from humanity, however, isn't going to help him when his back is to the wall and it is literally do or die.

Some familiar faces among the good guys return in the book as well: Gordy, owner of the nightclub the Nightcrawler, and Shoe Coldfield, Charles's thespian friend. And Charles Escott himself, private agent, although his role is downplayed in this particular title. Another understated role goes to Bobbi -- although of course, if she appears too much, the book will be in danger of turning into a romance (a criticism sometimes leveled at Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake books). But so far Elrod has steered away from that particular hazard. Only the barest touches of mush round out an often suspenseful tale in which Jack's powers often come to the rescue -- and occasionally aren't quite enough.

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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