P. N. Elrod
Published 1990 200 pages
Summary (from the back cover)
I’ve always had a weak spot for strange ladies. One very beautiful girl had even warned me that she was – get this – a vampire. But did I listen?
Well before you know it, I’m being chased by an ugly thug with a gun, and a bullet blasts its way through my back, and – believe it or not – nothing happened! I survived!
You guessed it. I, Jack Fleming, ace reporter, have been transformed into… a vampire! Which has its advantages. You never die, you never grow old, you sleep all day, and best of all… you can hunt down your own murderer.
Any long standing vampire fiction reader should be familiar with the name of P. N. Elrod. For many years she has been a prolific author of vampire genre fiction and is probably best known for her Vampire Files novels. Bloodlist is the first novel in this series and introduces us to Jack Fleming, investigative reporter and newly-turned vampire.
Set against a 1936 Chicago backdrop, Bloodlist invokes a feeling of vintage black and white movies, with dames and broads, gangsters, smoky nightclubs and regular Joe heroes. Only our hero is not a regular Joe, but a vampire.
In such a classic setting only a classic type of vampire would fit and Jack is such a classic, moulded from the traditional Dracula style of vampirism. By this I don’t mean that Jack is an aristocrat, with an opera cape who entraps the unwary traveller in his mouldy castle but that Jack has a lot of the same kind of vampiric conditions that Bram Stoker first invented with Dracula.
These conditions include needing to rest in the earth of his home, casting no reflection, being able to turn into mist and issues with crossing open or running water. Jack doesn’t have all of Dracula’s vampiric limitations though; he doesn’t need to ask to cross a threshold (which is a good thing because as an investigator he crosses a lot of thresholds uninvited to look for clues) and he doesn’t have any problems with garlic, dismissing it as an Eastern European myth. “What good is something that smells bad against someone who doesn’t have to breathe?” he asks pragmatically.
At the start of the novel, Jack wakes up dead and whilst he can’t remember how he came to be dead he isn’t surprised to find himself a vampire. He exchanged blood with his long-lost vampire lover Maureen several years ago and she told him what he would need to do to survive as a vampire in the event that he died. So Bloodlist isn’t about unexpectedly becoming a vampire and having to cope with being undead nor is it about vampire angst because Jack has a practical outlook on life (or death in this case) and just views it as another change in life.
This practical outlook about his newly dead state doesn’t extend to shrugging off his murder and the novel concentrates on his efforts to find his murderer and find out what he knew that was so dangerous that he was murdered because of it. In life Jack was a good investigative reporter so it doesn’t take him long to find a trail and follow it. Along the way he makes the acquaintance of an eccentric British private investigator who proves to be a good sidekick for Jack, helping him investigate his murder.
Bloodlist is a fast paced novel with a plot that twists and turns as Jack comes closer to finding out why he was killed and remembering what happened in the forgotten days before his death. Bloodlist seamlessly blends the fantasy and mystery genres with classic iconic influences and pulls it off exceedingly well. This book may not appeal to some vampire fiction fans as it isn’t full of blood drinking, dark horror or vampire angst but fans of both the fantasy and mystery genres should find this a satisfying read.
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Bloodlist is available in The Vampire Files, Volume One an omnibus edition of the first three books in this series.