Saturday, August 08, 2009

23 Hours – review

Author: David Wellington

First published: 2009

Contains spoilers

The blurb: In the next 23 hours, there will be no reprieve, no mercy, and no time off for good behaviour.

When vampire hunter Laura Caxton is locked up in a maximum-security prison, the cop-turned-con finds herself surrounded by countless murderers and death-row inmates with nothing to lose… and plenty of time to kill.

Caxton’s always been able to watch here own back – even when it’s against a cell-block wall – but soon she learns that an even greater threat has slithered behind the bars to join her. Justinia Malvern, the world’s oldest living vampire, has taken residence, and her strength grows by the moment as she raids the inmate population like an open bar with an all-you-can-drink supply of fresh blood. The crafty old vampire knows just how to pull Caxton’s strings, too, and she’s issued an ultimatum that Laura can’t refuse.

Now Laura has just 23 hours to fight her way through a gauntlet of vampires, cons, and killers… 23 hours to make one last, desperate attempt at protecting the world from Justinia’s evil.

The review: This is the fourth Laura Caxton book, a series that runs 13 Bullets, 99 coffins, Vampire Zero and this. If you haven’t read the first books then this is a massive spoiler to the earlier series.

In the previous volume Caxton, to deal with Arkeley, tortured a sociopathic vampire wannabe. This enabled her to find Arkeley’s lair but – of course – is against the law and she is now paying the price. Wellington now has a well established lore and he isn’t messing with that. What he is doing, therefore, is shifting the pitch and focus of each volume.

In the last volume he stripped Caxton down from ‘Caxton person’ to ‘Caxton vampire hunter’ – in a move I mentioned in the last review and really found most interesting. In this he offers her vulnerability again, placing her in an almost impossible survival horror situation with only her wits and a troubled individual to help her. This shift in direction kept the volume fresh and underlines why the Caxton series is, without doubt, one of the best vampire series currently being written.

He then places a second individual in focus, someone who is familiar with the brutal and violent vampire phenomena but has none of Caxton’s skill set or grim determination. This juxtaposes nicely.

There is one leap of faith necessary, one very minor aspect I found difficult to buy. Early on Caxton spots a clue as to what will happen (on a blackberry text). We, the reader, know immediately what it means but it seems lost on Caxton – I found it difficult to buy that she wouldn’t twig straight away. However, a minor little thing in an excellent book. 8 out of 10.


Jenn said...

Hell yeah! I love these books, you should totally check out the others, even if this one totally spoils it for you. I didn't even know Wellington was writing another Caxton book - I thought he was focusing on werewolves as of late. Cool deal.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Jenn - as I said, one of the (if not the) best vampire series out there at the moment.

Incidentally I just had a nip over to your blog and noticed that you recently looked at Mom, which was subject to a 'Vamp ot Not?' over here some time ago - article is here.

Anyway, just wanted to mention that I’m looking forward to having an explore around your blog.

S. Roit said...

I haven't gotten to this fourth one yet, but will soon. I love this series.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers sherry, nice to hear from you. Do get this one, I think you'll really enjoy it

S. Roit said...

I'm reading Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin right now.

You should give it a go if you haven't, and can find it. Atmospheric and lovely so far...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Sherry, its a fantastic book - I offered a few recommendations (without reviews) a little while ago and it was one of them - catch all the recommendations here.