There are secret agents and then there are secret agents, like the undead predator protecting the White House.
Debut novelist Farnsworth expands his cinema-ready concept for a screenplay into this rousing if ridiculous mash-up of spy stories and vampire vogue. Our point of view is provided by swaggering D.C. political operative Zach Barrows, who is rewarded for his service as deputy director for White House affairs with the weirdest appointment ever. Secret Service Agent Griffin takes the new kid into a secret trophy room hidden in the Smithsonian’s Castle, where a young, pale warrior awaits. Barrows soon learns that he’s to be the liaison to Nathaniel Cade, a real-life vampire who was drafted into service after he was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1867. Cade’s role is to protect the country from ghouls and bogeymen that make al-Qaeda seem friendly. Like all good bloodsuckers these days, Cade can go out during the day and only drinks animal blood. “Someone has to hold the line,” Griffin says. “That’s what we do. We fight every incursion they make. They invade; we repel. Forget the War on Terror, Zach. This is the War on Horror. And you’ve just been drafted.” Farnsworth does an admirable job of integrating his clichéd creation into American history (Nixon wants to unleash his pet vampire against Woodward and Bernstein, but Cade’s deal precludes it) and into a juicy techno-thriller story. This first entry finds a rogue scientist, Johann Konrad Dippel (the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), plotting to use the corpses of American soldiers as weapons. The book, complete with clipped prose and wildly unbelievable action sequences, strongly recalls the supernatural thrillers of Matthew Reilly. Fun stuff if you like this sort of thing, but its amalgamation of concepts from Twilight, 24 and CSI make it feel like it was cooked up in a focus group.
A paranormal thriller begging for a slot in airport bookshops.