Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Chill in the Blood by P.N. Elrod

So, Jack has survived the showdown with the gangster boss, Kyler, and now he gets to deal with the three-way free-for-all between Frank Paco's daughter, Angela, the hotshot mobster sent down from New York to settle things, Sean Sullivan, and Gordy, Jack's friend and ally who might be gunning for a bigger piece of the action himself. To further complicate matters, Escott introduces Fleming to a group of FBI agents (think Untouchables-style) who want to clean up the gangs in Chicago, no matter what the cost. Stir in a few crooked cops and you've got a recipe for utter chaos!

Around this point in the series, it becomes fairly clear that Jack's vampire abilities could make most of the conflicts in these books far too easy to resolve, if he's not limited in some way. So, Elrod has him a bit forgetful about making sure he's topped off with blood at all times, making him slow to recover and unable to think clearly when he's a quart low. She also pits him against adversaries who are so strong-willed that they're hard to hypnotize, and he discovers that drunks are also immune to his powers, and she sets up situations where he's unable to arrange a solo encounter with the people he needs to influence the most, so he has to settle for very quick "shots" of imposing his will on them. Perhaps this will develop his character's use of his powers into something more resembling a scalpel than a sledgehammer eventually. He also struggles with his basic "goodness", despite being undead, and is unwilling to just murder the gangsters that are standing in his way, no matter how despicable they are.

So, it seems that we'll see some more personal growth out of Jack. Elrod also begins to flesh out some of the bit players in this drama, like Shoe Coldfied, the black gangster who is another friend and ally of Escott and Fleming's, and we get a sense that there's a big backstory for Escott, too.

Another fun adventure in gangland Chicago.

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