On a rainy autumn night in Boston, Lawton is sent to terminate a man whom he believes is a drug dealer. It is just another day in the life of a fixer – a guardian of the secret vampire society that lives within our own, and has its own rules and Council. As the man lays dying, Lawton realizes that there is something wrong with the entire situation and the man – who pleads with Lawton to protect his son – is not at all what he thought. Lawton soon finds himself caught up in a tangle that leads him on an around the world chase, and tied to a 10 year old boy with a remarkable talent.
This is the second of Jon F. Merz’s Lawton series, and if you are looking for vampires that sparkle, chase after waitresses or mope about in old castles, this isn’t the book to read. (Though admittedly, there is a lot of sex appeal going on, even though in this particular story there is no romantic line.) As with the first book, there is little time spent developing the world, we are thrown right into the story from the first opening scene. However, Merz has clearly done his homework, and has built a fully formed and airtight world that he never strays from. We get enough explanation to know what is going on, but not enough that you lose the flow of what is happening. Actions first, explanations later – exactly what you would expect from someone like Lawson, a vampire who is part police officer, part hit man and all action hero. Merz has taken an otherwise questionable character and made him complex, sympathetic and dare I say it – human. Lawson has to take time to recover from injuries (granted not as long as a human would, but still) has weaknesses, gets confused and has moral dilemmas. We can relate to him.
The pacing is very good on this novel – we are kept running right along with Lawson and his charge. There is of course the question of what a vampire action hero does with a 10-year-old boy in tow, so there are the curious choices of babysitters. Just at the point where I was starting to think, “How stupid are the bad guys they aren’t noticing the kid is with the sitter instead” Merz throws in a twist that sends the story off in a different direction. The writing is excellent and there are the continuations of subplots from the first book that clearly are going to be carrying over through the series. There is enough romantic interest thrown in to make Lawson complex, not enough to interfere with the story line, and even the “darlings,” characters that seem untouchable are not invincible or immune to being killed. The only complaint I have – out of the four Lawson novels I have read so far – the bad guy is always part of, or sanctioned in some way by the Council, and they are predictably pissed off at Lawson. While these are more thriller/suspense than mystery, it makes one wonder if the five or six people on the council were really so rotten, why haven’t the rest of the vampires booted them out by now? Even bad presidents are voted out eventually. It is strange that these Council members have been in place for several hundred years and no one has noticed them being evil until now.
My review this time – 4 out of 5 stars