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Former ADA Alastair Maddox pursues Prohibition Chicago’s most dangerous monsters after witnessing the deaths of his parents and grandparents as a boy. When a former colleague in Chicago PD comes to ask Alastair for help, he comes face to face with the mysterious Alexandra DeLane. But something’s off. DeLane is way too calm and her eyes are the color of blood. After she escapes, Alastair goes on the hunt only to find himself the prey of an ambitious and mysterious mob boss who plots to have him murdered. The problem? Alastair doesn’t stay dead and comes back as something else. Something more dangerous and straight out of a horror novel.
Ramsay’s (Bane of Tenebris) gritty vampire crime novel immerses readers in the bloody turf wars of Prohibition-era Chicago, with a supernatural twist. Alastair Maddox fought corruption as a detective—with the scars to prove it—and is taking on the mob as assistant district attorney. He trusts few people other than his girlfriend Charlaine “Charlie” Ware, a journalist; Paul Stone, his partner; and Lieutenant Raymond King, his ex-boss. After a run-in with the mesmerizing murderess Alexandra DeLane, who escapes from a police station and leaves a trail of destruction in her wake, he’s driven to track her down. Two months later, he wakes up naked in the woods with a chunk of his memory missing, an unignorable craving for blood, and more questions than ever. Separated from his friends, who think he’s dead, he teams up with the suspiciously helpful Mason Downing to get to the bottom of it all.

Despite some instances of awkward language and the occasional missing word, readers will be caught up in the motley duo’s shenanigans as they hunt DeLane and the mob boss who’s giving her orders. One of the most enjoyable elements of the story is seeing a new vampire come to grips with the powers, needs, and drawbacks of what Maddox calls his “condition”: once-delicious food seems repellent, he can hear others’ blood pumping, and his newfound ability to “phase” through solid objects comes in handy during a car chase.

Ramsay skillfully deploys the noir classics—a hero haunted by his past, dangerous dames, and dirty backroom dealings—alongside amped-up action, atmospheric evocations of 1920s Chicago in wintertime, and the paranormal. Readers looking for mystery, action, or vampires will be drawn irresistibly into this fast-paced, inventive whodunit.

Takeaway: Paranormal crime fiction readers will sink their teeth into in this noir story of flawed characters trying to do right in 1920s Chicago.

Great for fans of: LP Kindred’s “Your Rover is Here,” Max Gladstone.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A