An occasionally amusing but mostly run-of-the-mill vampire tale.




Life as a vampire is no picnic in Gatewood’s (A Shadow Within, 2017, etc.) fantasy novel.

Chris Malone is only 20 years old when his human life ends. Before succumbing to cancer, he makes an agreement with a vampire named Aldric, who will fake Chris’ death and transform him into a vampire—ridding his body of illness and granting him near immortality. In return, the young man must give Aldric one year of service. The young vamp, however, is less than enthusiastic about working for Aldric (“His minions prey on the weak, those close to death and out of options,” he thinks. “No, this needs to stop, now!”), so he goes on the run, pursued by Aldric’s dangerous Teufelhunds, or “Devil Dogs.” In the course of his flight, he bumps into Michelle, an acquaintance from college who’s understandably shocked by the fact that he’s still alive. Later, Michelle sustains injuries that force Chris to transform her into a vampire as well. She must come to grips with a life she never asked for, but her newfound skills come in handy when Chris decides that he must kill Aldric to save his own family—while avoiding a brewing vampire war. Gatewood’s novel is full of blood and battles, mythical creatures, and family drama. Michelle, who occasionally tells the story from her perspective, is the novel’s most engaging character—a tough woman who rescues Chris just as often as he saves her. However, this tale has little to add to an overpopulated genre. Fans of supernatural tales will recognize many familiar, serious elements, such as the vampire politics, but Gatewood also manages to find moments of humor along the way; there’s something amusingly practical about a vampire needing an Uber. However, the dialogue feels unbelievable at times; for instance, not long after Michelle meets up with vampire Chris—whom she barely knew when he was alive—he drones on about the drawbacks of vampire life and she offers to help him “work through” his issues, as if she’s a Dr. Phil for the undead.

An occasionally amusing but mostly run-of-the-mill vampire tale.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 287

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.


Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

Did you like this book?

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.


Ninth in the author’s Gray Man series (Mission Critical, 2019, etc.) in which “the most elite assassin in the world” has his hands full.

Ex–CIA Agent Courtland Gentry (the Gray Man) has Serbian war criminal Ratko Babic in his gun sight, but when he decides instead to kill the old beast face to face, he uncovers a massive sex-slavery ring. “I don’t get off on this,” the Gray Man lies to the reader as he stabs a sentry. “I only kill bad people.” Of course he does. If there weren’t an endless supply of them to slay, he’d have little reason to live. Now, countless young Eastern European women are being lured into sexual slavery and fed into an international pipeline, sold worldwide through “the Consortium.” Bad guys refer to their captives as products, not people. They are “merchandise,” but their plight haunts the Gray Man, so of course he is going to rescue as many women as he can. The road to their salvation will be paved with the dead as he enlists a team of fighters to strike the enemy, which includes a South African dude who is giddy for the chance to meet and kill the Gray Man. Meanwhile, Europol analyst Talyssa Corbu meets the hero while on a personal mission to rescue her sister. “You don’t seem like a psychopath,” she tells him. Indeed, though he could play one on TV. Corbu and her sister are tough and likable characters while the director of the Consortium leads a double life as family man and flesh merchant. Human trafficking is an enormous real-life problem, so it’s satisfying to witness our larger-than-life protagonist put his combat skills to good use. There will be a sequel, of course. As a friend tells the wounded Gentry at the end, he’ll be off killing bozos again before he knows it.

Great storytelling about the pursuit of extrajudicial justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09891-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet