01/03/2011. Contributed by Sarah Bruch
pub: Spectra/Ballantine Books/Random House. 359 page small enlarged paperback. Price: $15.00 (US), $17.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-52060-9.
check out websites: www.ballantinebooks.com and www.CheriePriest.com
Raylene Pendle is a professional thief who just happens to have died in the 1920s. Lucky for us she’s also a vampire. Lucky for her, too! Her usual line of work involves stealing various high-value items for rich humans, some of which never actually make it to their recipients but remain hidden in her secret warehouse along with her two ‘pet’ humans. Her career choice has earned her the nickname of Cheshire Red by the FBI. Mind you, they also think she’s a man. In ‘Bloodshot’, Raylene has entered into a slightly different career, that of a private detective trying to retrieve some well-hidden documents for a fellow vampire, Ian Stott. It’s not all new to her as her father was a detective back when she was alive, but working with vampires is something Raylene is distinctly unhappy about.
Having read the reviews for Cherie Priest's steampunk novels, ‘Dreadnought’, ‘Boneshaker’ and ‘Clementine’, I was really interested in reading this book. Not having actually read any of Priest's other novels, I don’t know whether I would like them any more than I enjoyed this urban fantasy exploration, it seems that she writes steampunk a little better than urban fantasy. This book does grab you but not as a vampire novel, it’s definitely more of a mystery with overtones of film noir and black and white detective movies.
I have to say that here is another vampire with OCD tendencies, she is definitely slightly mentally unhinged. I’m not sure whether this is a theme that’s emerging suddenly with vampire novels or whether I just happen to be subconsciously choosing novels with this as a theme. I am however enjoying this humanising of non-human characters.
The most amusing sections of this novel are centred around Adrian deJesus, an ex-Navy SEAL turned drag-queen and his various different outfits. The discussions Raylene has in her head about where Adrian manages to ‘hide’ everything are hilarious!
As a vampire novel, this book is not great, the vampire aspects are not discussed a great deal, in fact you could go through large chunks of it without realising this is an urban fantasy. I think it could do with a little more about the vampires, their history (especially about the families) could be delved into a without detracting from the main story. A little more blood drinking action would also not go amiss. I did approve of the lack of vampire sex-crazed sections in this book, I often find that these are put in as fillers and aren’t necessary. I would say that because of the lack of the usual vampire aspects in her book, it’s almost like a vampire cosy mystery, one for readers who don’t mind a bit of swearing but don’t want urban fantasy sex scenes all over the place.
However, as a mystery novel, this book is very enjoyable. The characters are all clearly drawn and highly amusing and I’d love to read some more about them but I would need the next book to have a lot more urban fantasy to it. In certain sections of the book, Adrian deJesus was attaining the same feats of strength and dexterity as Raylene and he is not a vampire. The ending felt very rushed to me, all of a sudden things were happening and I wasn’t totally sure how Raylene had managed to suss everything out.
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