Author: David Wellington
First published: 2009
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.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Author: David Wellington