A Chill in the Blood

P. N. Elrod, Editor, Author Ace Books $20.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-441-00501-7
Brisk and bloody action paces this slick new case in Elrod's Vampire Files, which picks up where the series left off with Blood on the Water (1992). Conscientious PI Jack Fleming, who's a vampire, still prowls the mean streets of Depression-era Chicago, putting the bite on crooks and reflecting wryly on his divided nature (""Sure I was a vampire, but like everyone else on the planet I'm still only human""). Although one of the undead, he's the least cold-blooded character in this hard-boiled shoot-em-up laced with larceny and murder. From the moment he's fished off the bottom of Lake Michigan in the opening pages, he finds himself a pawn in a brutal turf war waged by mob moll Angela Paco and a rival from New York eager to usurp her control of the Hydra syndicate. Jack's efforts to contain the combat and save the skin of a bookkeeper caught in the crossfire are complicated by the intrusion of Merrill Adkins, a federal crimebuster as vicious as the hoods he hunts. And when $700,000 secretly skimmed from the Hydra coffers becomes part of the spoils, even he can't keep track of the double-crosses and betrayals. Elrod excels at creating sticky situations that test Jack's resolve to limit displays of his vampire powers to hypnotism and invisibility, and she finds room in the busy narrative to accommodate the involvement of debonair sidekick Charles Escott, alcoholic sawbones Doc Clarson and other series regulars. Echoes of Hammett and Chandler abound, but the novel succeeds in its own right as an entertaining exercise in supernatural noir. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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