Thursday, July 24, 2014
First published: 2011
The blurb: Body Parts, Blood, Fetishism…
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.
The review: I first came across Code Blood, or should I say an excerpt thereof, in the anthology Vampires: Romance to Rippers; an anthology of tasty stories Vol. 1 and was so taken by the villain of the piece, Markus, that I immediately ordered the book. As I delved into the book I found I disliked Markus intensely – that is what you are meant to do, I guess – but that in no way made him less of a well written character and the book took us away from the supernatural vampire and into the realm where people believe they are vampires – and you know what, sometimes it is good to move out of the supernatural for a while.
Now I don’t want to get into a debate about whether so called vampyres truly are people who need to drink blood to survive – but I can certainly say that Markus is more in the realm of the deluded. An albino with blood and death fetishes he is thoroughly dislikeable and a very real danger to a young Tibetan Grad student who has Bombay Blood, a rare blood type that can be transfused into most other blood groups but cannot accept transfusion of anything bar their type. His aim is to sell it to the vampire community (and keep some for himself).
We also meet Colt, a firefighter and paramedic who, still in training as the latter, has to attend an accident where a young woman has lost her foot. The foot is never recovered and Colt becomes obsessed with finding it – it was actually picked up and stolen by Markus. I found myself somewhat annoyed by the Colt character as he was an idealist, and too emotionally drawn in (something his colleagues try to tell him) and I just felt that, where he real, he’d be heading for one major emotional crash and burn.
The characterisations were well done in the book and it was a quick read. It concentrated, to some degree, more on the thoughts and emotions of the characters, rather than the actual thriller aspect, but they were well drawn (if at times unsympathetic) characters. 7 out of 10.