P.N. Elrod,
Cold Streets
(Ace, 2003)

Vampire noir, anyone? That seems to be the best way to describe Cold Streets, the latest entry in The Vampire Files by P.N. Elrod.

Jack Fleming has a pretty good, well, un-life. His nightclub, Lady Crymsyn, has taken off, and mob boss Gordy Weems has declared it neutral territory. OK, so he has to spend the hours between sunrise and sunset in his sanctuary. He likes the night life just fine.

When he assists his friend Charles Escott in solving a kidnapping case, he doesn't expect one of the kidnappers to recognize what he is. The man, Dugan, threatens Jack with blackmail, but Jack doesn't take threats lightly. If that isn't enough, a new mobster from New York City starts meeting with Gordy at Lady Crymsyn so he can unfold his plan to take over Gordy's territory. The possibility of his nightclub becoming the site of a gun battle doesn't appeal to Jack. He tackles both problems at once with the help of Charles and Bobbi, Jack's girlfriend.

Elrod tells a good story, although transitions aren't always smooth from scene to scene. Still, she keeps good control of the two main plots as well as the smaller subplots that crop up. The narrative maintains a good pace overall.

Jack is a well-drawn character, nicely defined and appealing. The other characters seem to rely on stock characterizations, and giving one of them a cheesy accent is very nearly unforgivable.

Those hooked on the series will definitely want to read this, and since it does stand alone well, Cold Streets is a fine introduction to Jack's -- and Elrod's -- world.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 12 July 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.