The President’s Vampire
Published 2011 335 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
For 140 years, Nathaniel Cade has been the President's Vampire, sworn to protect and serve his country. Cade's existence is the most closely guarded of White House secrets: a superhuman covert agent who is the last line of defence against nightmare scenarios that ordinary citizens only dream of.
When a new outbreak of an ancient evil – one that he has seen before – comes to light, Cade and his human handler, Zach Barrows, must track down its source. The president suspects that the threat may have ties to a high-level defence contractor – a private, Blackwater-like security force whose hired mercenaries take a very dim view of being forced to work with the president’s men. “Protect and serve" often means settling old scores and confronting new betrayals… as only a centuries-old predator can.
Once again political conspiracies and the supernatural meet in an explosive fashion in The President’s Vampire, Christopher Farnsworth’s follow up novel to his 2010 debut Blood Oath. Once again the story follows the activities of Nathanial Cade, a 140 year-old vampire who is magically bound to serve the president of the USA. Cade is fantastic in his role as supernatural assassin and one-man-army. This time he is fighting to save America and the rest of the world from the machinations of the Shadow Company, a hidden sub-group inside the CIA that is no longer under the control of the US government, whose mission appears to be chaos and destruction on a global scale.
This time out the Shadow Company are trying to start an apocalypse. They have been playing around with genetically modifying people into aggressive reptilians, not so affectionately known as “snakeheads”. Their DNA modifications are delivered by a highly infectious virus and they have plans to infect the whole world. It is left to Cade and his handler Zach to foil the plot and avert global disaster. Luckily Cade is strong, clever and resilient (even for a vampire) so even as the stakes get higher and the situations progressively more dire, it never feels like there is much danger that he won’t prevail against the forces of evil.
My main criticism of Blood Oath was the ridiculously evil, one-dimensional bad guys. The President’s Vampire has a similar stock of over-the-top villains but they all get to meet enjoyably messy ends – so in an abrupt 180 degree turn I’ve decided that I actually like this best about The President’s Vampire. The only disappointment with the story is that the bad guys are revealed early on in the story to the reader so there is little mystery about who is behind the dastardly plot. In fact it’s frustrating that as a reader we know who the villains are (and it’s fairly obvious) but Zach and Cade seem clueless. Actually this isn’t true. Cade views everyone with suspicion – it’s a part of his predator’s nature. Zach is the one who is unaware that he is surrounded by danger and his blithe disregard for Cade’s warnings seem completely unrealistic. Zach should know better than anyone that in a political environment nothing is exactly what it seems, this is doubly true for the supernatural world, so it is hard to believe that he could be that clueless.
Apart from that small gripe The President’s Vampire is a hugely entertaining novel. It combines the best aspects of the action-driven thriller with the supernatural and gains enough substance to become greater than the sum of its parts. I’ve read a lot of vampire thrillers lately and been disappointed with most of them. This fast-paced supernatural thriller is jam-packed with dangerous monsters and bloody violence and is a superior example of just how good this genre can be.
Recommended summer holiday reading for vampire fans everywhere.
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