Book Review: Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth

How do you feel about the Boogie Man? No, we’re not talking about someone “shaking their groove thing” and we’re not talking about something you might get on your finger after some proboscoid exploration. We’re talking about the actual Boogie Man (or bogeyman or boogeyman or boogieman) – the original monster under the bed.

At my house, the Boogie Man received such attention by my youngest child that we had to invent a “Monster Alarm” (like a burglar alarm) that we would “arm” when we went to bed so no monsters could get her in the middle of the night. And during my own childhood I can remember a morbid fascination with monsters in the dark that has survived to the present day.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve really enjoyed Christopher Farnsworth‘s series about a vampire working for the President of the United States. With The President’s Vampire and Blood Oath Farnsworth introduced Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson after a brutal set of murders on a whaling ship. He was then bound by Voodoo by a blood oath to serve and protect the President of the United States. Cade is a monster, but he protects the interests of the Presidents from the other monsters who also live there. Monsters of both literary and mythological origins.

The fact that Farnsworth has now brought Cade face to face with the Boogie Man is twisted enough to be genius. But that he can combine the Boogie Man with a political battle for the White House rife with commentary about the current political climate in the US makes it that much better. The first book grabbed my attention a few years ago, but the second one, though I enjoyed it, didn’t grab me as much. And Red, White, and Blood is now my favorite in the series.

When you consider all the foes Cade has faced in the first two books, from vampires and a real-life Dr. Frankenstein to the more mundane enemies, it’s amazing to think that he’s faced the Boogie Man before. He’s had other names, of course… The Zodiac Killer. BTK. The Ax Man of New Orleans. But as many times as Cade has faced and beaten him, he keeps coming back.

Now the Boogie Man is back and determined to end Cade once and for all. But more than that, he’s working with someone else this time. Helen Holt. A woman who has somehow stayed alive despite Cade’s efforts. A woman who wants Cade gone, but also wants to see power shift and new blood in the White House.

Can Cade defeat the Boogie Man once and for all? You’ll have to read Red, White, and Blood to find out.

For more about Nathaniel Cade and author Christopher Farnsworth, be sure to check out his website and follow him on Twitter!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Hi again…

Hate and ignorance. These are the forces that cause more pain than anything else in the world. Tie hate to means and opportunity and you have murder. Tie hate to ideology and you have war. Tie hate to religious fanaticism and you have a crusade. But what happens when you tie hate to ignorance? An inability to predict the ripples of human behavior and unseen events.

Dead of Night from Jonathan Maberry takes the traditional zombie story from George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead and puts a modern twist on it. This has to be one of the best traditional zombie tales I’ve ever read. A murderer’s body finds its way to a small town morgue instead of a state cemetery after lethal injection on death row. And from that unexpected change in plans… all hell breaks loose.

I won’t hide the fact that I’m a fan of Jonathan Maberry’s work. Ever since reading Patient Zero, I’ve followed each new release and enjoyed them all, especially the ones involving zombies. The recent surge in imaginative reinventions of the zombie genre has been heartening. Books like Mira Grant’s FEED and Maberry’s Rot and Ruin have gone a long way to inject new life to undead fiction.

For me, these stories aren’t about the zombies themselves. Zombies are typically boring characters that have little or no personality of their own (please pardon the pun). It’s the survivors who provide the excitement and contrast. Some survivors are definitely better than others and obviously not everybody survives as long as everybody else, but it’s about the journey from life to death or undeath that provides the heart of these stories. Who comes out in the end and are they left with as much humanity as they had when the whole thing began?

In Dead of Night, it’s police officer Dez Fox and reporter ex-boyfriend Billy Trout who form the chewy center of this zombie candy bar. Dez has issues with relationships and alcohol, but is a damn good cop with combat experience from the military. And Trout is a dedicated reporter who can smell out a story and stick with it wherever it leads. But nobody ever expects the dead to rise unless it’s in a horror movie… And even when it happens in your home town, it might take you a while to accept that the dead are actually rising.

Jonathan Maberry, author of Zombie CSU and oth...

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The book starts slowly to introduce the microcosm of Stebbins, PA, and its people. Once things get started in the town mortuary however, it’s a roller coaster that doesn’t let up. The thought that kept going through my mind was if this book didn’t get optioned and made into a movie by Halloween 2012, I’m going to be shocked. This one should be fast-tracked and in theaters for folks to get the crud scared out of them. As I was reading, I was imagining the scenes and it has more than a few chills and thrills to make you jump in an audience.

I do have to say that if you’re a fan of Maberry’s other works, you might be a little surprised at the writing style of this one. I was a bit put off until I got into the groove after about 30 pages, but after that it was a thrill ride to the end. And though I don’t want to spoil anything for you if you’re planning on picking this up, I have to talk about one thread that weaves through the whole book. Have you ever wondered what it’s like to actually *be* a zombie? Well, Maberry found a way to do just that – and it has to be one of the most unique twists on zombie fiction I’ve ever read.

“He could feel everything.
Every. Single. Thing.
Jolts in his legs with each clumsy step. The protest of muscles as they fought the onset of vigor even as they lifted his arms and flexed his hands. The stretch of jaw muscles. The shuddering snap as his teeth clamped shut around the young police officer’s throat.
And then the blood…”
- Chapter Sixteen, Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Honestly this is the Night of the Living Dead for this generation. Forget Resident Evil and ZombielandDead of Night reads like Maberry crawled inside Romero’s head, upgraded the lighting and AV systems, and spit out a bestseller. Whether you’re a fan of Jonathan Maberry’s work or a fan of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, this is a zombie book for the ages.

Night of the Living Dead hits book stores today! Be sure to order your copy so you have it on hand for a little light horror reading this Halloween!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Giveaway: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

Courtesy of the kind folks at TOR Books and PR by the Book, I have an extra copy of Alex Bledsoe‘s recent release The Hum and the Shiver to give away to one lucky reader.

Unfortunately, because of my limited shipping budget, I can only offer this to United States residents… But all you have to do is leave a comment below and I’ll contact the winner via e-mail on October 14, 2011!

Check out the interview with Bledsoe and my review of the book to see if it might tickle your fancy. I think it’s one of the more creative, lyrical urban fantasies I’ve read in a while!

–Fitz

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