Book one in the "Vampire Files"
by P.N. Elrod
Published 1990 by Ace Books
One of the latest trends on the internet is what is called a "mashup," where two different items are combined to make a single unique item. The trend has been mainly in combining two different songs and making a new song. The trend has come into the literature world with some recent publications like "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies," where the classic Jane Austen novel, "Pride & Prejudice" has been combined with some zombie battles by Seth Grahame-Smith. Well before this was an internet meme, P.N. Elrod created a unique mashup with the combining of the film noir type detective story and the supernatural world of vampires, in her Vampire Files series.
I love the old detective stories where the detective gets into many tight situations before finally solving the mystery. The best part of those old stories is that they are told in first person with the detective telling the story, and the descriptive language with quotes like,"You'll always be a two-bit cannon. And when they pick you up in the gutter dead, you're hand'll be in a drunk's pocket." P.N. Elrod continues this great language tradition and even throws in some vampires into the mix making this series pretty fun, if this first book is a good representation.
Jack Fleming, former newspaperman has learned that when you die you lose your memory. Jack seems to have a problem remembering who killed him. The last thing he remembers is waking up on the beach with holes in his shirt where the bullets entered and exited his body. Oh yeah, I should say Jack died human but thanks to his girlfriend, he woke up a vampire. Jack takes on the job of solving the crime of murder, his own. Jack's investigation takes him to Chicago where somehow his death is connected with that town's mobsters. The timeline of this story takes place during the years just after prohibition and yes the mobsters are still running gambling joints and night clubs.
Jack gets some help from a former actor turned private investigator named Charles Escott and with Escott's ability to put on stage make-up and act out roles manages to get behind the scenes of a local gambler and mob boss and find out why he was killed and then try to exact revenge.
The interesting aspect of this story is how Jack discovers the various new powers being a vampire offers. He's able to disappear at will and to control people's minds at times. Jack has to visit the Chicago stockyards for his dinner, since he doesn't like to take blood from people, he'd rather dine on the cows, at least to some degree.
If you are a fan of the old detective stories or a fan of vampires you'll enjoy this book, if you are a fan of both, be prepared to enjoy some literary bliss.