Book Review: The President’s Vampire by Chrisopher Farnsworth

Hi again!

Have you ever wondered what’s at the root of some of those bizarre myths and legends you’ve read about in school or in popular fiction? It sometimes seems as though there may have been supernatural creatures and strange events down through the ages. But all those gods, monsters, ghosts and aliens are just stories, right?

But then again, what if they’re not? That brings into question everything we know as adults and doubts begin creeping in where they’re really not wanted. Paranoia sets in and soon we’re looking deeper into shadows to make sure there’s nothing there and the boogie men aren’t coming to get us.

In Blood Oath, Christopher Farnsworth introduced us to Nathaniel Cade. For more than 140 years, he’s been attached to the office of the President of the United States, protecting the nation against supernatural threats other agencies can’t hope to deal with. What makes Cade perfect for the job beyond his longevity? Well, he’s a vampire for one. And two, he swore a blood oath to the office of the President at the hands of a Voodoo priestess. He is compelled to fulfill his oath through thick and thin unless released by his death or the United States no longer exists.

We were introduced to Cade through his new handler Zach Burrows in the first book. Poor Zach was put through the wringer a few times, but managed to always creatively come through in the end. Either that or Cade has to save his bacon.

I loved Blood Oath – it presented a vampire story with deep roots in U.S. history and a style that was more 24 than Twilight. Beneath the surface of the world we live in is another world teeming with people, monsters, and worse – seeking to destroy us, eat us, or make us slaves. And personally I’m not too keen on any of those options.

Now Farnsworth is back with another tale of Nathaniel Cade saving the world in The President’s Vampire. And once again we catch glimpses of that secret supernatural history of the world behind the scenes. This time there’s some politics involved and shadow agencies devoted to reforming mankind for their own nefarious purposes. Can Cade stop them? Only time will tell. And of course, it’s not just humans causing trouble. There are monsters involved as well, but I’ll try not to spoil the fun too much.

I do have to provide a bit of a hint to a few people. Does the name “Innsmouth” mean anything to you? I thought it might.

Beyond the creatures in the book, I will say Farnsworth has also managed to slip in some great historical tidbits. Some related to 9/11, some earlier, like John Wilkes Booth, but each time one of these juicy tidbits from history came up, I nearly giggled out loud with glee. There’s just something more tangible about Cade simply because he’s walked the halls of a century and a half of history and survived.

My one criticism of the book is the opening. The first couple of chapters left me feeling a bit perplexed, wondering if Farnsworth had lost his touch. However, once things get rolling, there’s no stopping them. The President’s Vampire starts with a few tentative nibbles and then sinks its teeth into your jugular vein until it’s done. This was another book I could hardly bear to put down until I was done.

I can only wonder what’s next for Cade and Burrows. Can they continue to survive the battle between politics and the dark malevolent forces threatening the United States every moment? Only time will tell. But something tells me Cade will find a way to survive anything short of a nuclear bomb going off in his face.

If you like your thrillers with a bit of bite, look no further than The President’s Vampire that was just released this week. And if you haven’t read Blood Oath already, I’d encourage you to do so. These two books together will make a powerful one-two punch!

For more information about Christopher Farnsworth and his books, be sure to check out his website at ChrisFarnsworth.com. The partial chronology of events in Nathaniel Cade’s world is definitely worth checking out!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books below!

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Movie Review: The Elephant in the Living Room

Hi again!

Married to a veterinarian for the last decade, I’ve gained some perspective on the family pet in recent years. It may sound harsh, but some people shouldn’t be allowed to have pets. And I’m not just talking about people running puppy mills. Some folks simply treat their animals as nothing more than something to kick around the house and neglect for days on end instead of as living, breathing creatures deserving love and attention.

That said, there’s a huge difference between your average domestic dog or cat and having a python bigger than the tallest player in the NBA in the same house with you and your kids. For some reason, we’ve lost the fear and respect we should have of wild (not domesticated) creatures in close proximity. Why people, whether famous like boxer Mike Tyson or the average guy next door, would consider a leopard, puma, or tiger to be safe to keep as a pet is beyond me. I understand loving animals, but especially when children are involved you have to use some common sense.

A new documentary, The Elephant in the Living Room from director Michael Webber, hopes to cover the issue from a variety of perspectives. I was worried it would, as many unbalanced documentaries do, focus entirely on one side of the issue or the other, but instead we end up with a fairly even approach and are allowed to come to our own conclusions.

In the middle there’s Tim Harrison, a retired public safety officer (cop, paramedic, fireman all rolled into one), who has been on both sides of the fence – raising one of these wild animals at home when he was younger and trying to help both animals and owners deal with situations wildly out of control on the streets and highways of major populated areas.

On one side is owner Terry Brumfield, who owns two African lions on his property – one of which escapes and terrorizes people on an interstate highway attacking cars. A truck driver still recovering from an accident years earlier, Brumfield loves his lions and tries to do right by them. But he’s unwilling to give them up even after the lion escapes and is brought back unharmed. It’s obvious he’s conflicted and has a big heart, but is it really safe or in the animals’ best interest to be kept locked up in tiny cages?

And on the other extreme we have an ER doctor shocked at the stupidity of some owners almost killed by their exotic pets. Politicians at the local, state, and national levels wondering why anybody needs to own a pet that could not only hurt or kill the owner and any immediate family or friends but could escape and hurt or kill innocent people caught in the way.

In the last couple of years, we have visited a local animal sanctuary near our home for exotic cats. Serenity Springs is home to more than 100 different big cats – lions, tigers, cougars, and more. They do their best to provide a safe, happy environment for rescued animals in their care that come from animal trainers who use them in film and TV productions to casino acts and private owners. It’s heartbreaking to hear some of the stories of those animals. But these are the folks who often have to save the day when exotic pets get out of control.

If you are an animal lover, I definitely encourage you to find The Elephant in the Living Room on a movie screen near you this month. Check here for a list of theaters across the country showing the film in April 2011. Whether you believe in responsible ownership of exotic pets or that they’re a menace, the film brings up some shocking facts and stories to ponder further.

For more details about the film, check out its website at TheElephantInTheLivingRoom.com.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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