Thursday, December 03, 2015
First published: 2015
The Blurb: The average mobster dies as they live. Faolan O'Connor, however, finds new life after he dies.
Faolan O'Connor spent his life killing for men like Legs Diamond and Lucky Luciano, and now it’s his turn to face the music. But when vampire Darcy Killian offers him immortality, Faolan enters a world of violence, wealth, and power beyond anything he s ever imagined.
Driven by ambition and guilt, Faolan fights his way up the ranks in a battle to justify his sins with success. He’s learned the hard way that relationships are vulnerabilities and friends are just enemies in disguise, but he also knows that he can’t conquer a city alone.
Aided by an emotionally-crippled genius and a warm-hearted call girl, Faolan builds a loyal crew with which to challenge the tyrannical Killian's rule. However, will this re-awakened humanity prove a fatal flaw or his ace in the hole? With his life and the future of the city he loves at stake, can Faolan play his cards right or is he drawing dead?
The review: For full disclosure, Brian McKinley is a friend on Facebook and provided the book for review. I have previously read (and reviewed) the author’s novel Ancient Blood and I have to admit to being a tad disappointed, before I read this, that I wasn’t going to read a sequel to that. I realised very quickly, however, that this book is set within the same universe – though chronologically much earlier and with a different lead character.
It is with this lead character that part of the strength of this volume lies (Faolan does appear fleetingly in Ancient Blood but was not drawn clearly for the reader, as he is in this). No matter how much the blurb may suggest that Faolan is driven by guilt the truth is he is a gangster. From double crosses and assassinations – both as a mortal and an immortal – and passing vampire mob boss Killian’s new vampire test of feeding from and killing a child, Faolan is clearly deeply flawed and no spark of conscience can disguise that. That made him fun to read… this wasn’t an immortal creature fighting a vampire’s nature, he was a killer (and fratricide) prior to becoming a vampire. The skill was making him likeable as a character despite this, and with his roguish charm the character is a winner.
The character complements the other winning piece of the puzzle, which is the style. The author has drawn a convincing noir atmosphere and allowed the vampires of his Hegemony world fit into that environment. The use of poker idioms worked really well and I particularly liked the change into present tense when Faolan enters his “killing groove” a neat language trick that was simple but effective.
Lore-wise I don’t think there was anything more than we discovered in Ancient Blood – though the fact that vampiric regeneration can grow back whole limbs may have been new information.
An impressive volume and now I’m torn… I had wanted to read a sequel to Ancient Blood but now I think I’d prefer more Faolan and more Noir. 8 out of 10.