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Cold Streets
P.N. Elrod
Ace Books, 380 pages

Steve Stone
Cold Streets
P.N. Elrod
P.N. Elrod lives in Texas with her two dogs, a house full of books, tapes, and a full-sized TARDIS.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Lady Crymsyn
P.N. Elrod Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Jack Fleming figures the case will be easy. He'll use his vampire abilities to become mist, attaching himself to the suitcase filled with the ransom for Vivian Gladwell's daughter, Sarah. He'll follow the money, overpower the kidnappers, take the girl home. He's right. He does all this with great ease, finishing up by using his hypnotic powers to whammy the men into confessing. This is where things go downhill. It works on all of them, except Hurley Dugan, their leader, who now suspects Jack's true nature. Soon, Dugan will try and blackmail Jack, but it's nothing that he and his friend Charles Endicott can't handle.

Unfortunately, bad luck never comes singly. Some gangsters have declared Jack's night club, Lady Crymsyn, neutral ground and are discussing certain issues -- mainly, Gordon Weems giving up his territory to the feral newcomer who thinks he can do a better job. This and some other problems give the two a lot more to handle, but with the help of Jack's resourceful girlfriend Bobbi and some creative bending of the law, no task seems too big.

For me, some of what really makes Cold Streets special is the seamless blending of 1938 Chicago (down to some obscure and entirely too cool costuming, such as Bobbi's Snow White patterned dress) with the world of vampires. This perfect combination of Raymond Chandler and Anne Rice makes for involved reading. I love how Jack uses his powers, and the consequences of their use. He doesn't become fog and then pop out of it with no harm done, it takes a lot of his energy. Also, the fact his senses are blunted in this state shows the fact that P.N. Elrod has really considered the logical effects of being a vampire, and has built reasonable and workable rules for this universe. She makes vampires feel possible. The fact that her research is so well done contributes to the setting where gangsters, detectives, rich heiresses, and Russian dancers all merge seamlessly, creating a place where anything can happen. It also makes Jack's voice as he relates the story much more effective. The backdrop of the night club only makes the feel of that hard-boiled detective with a heart of gold undertone richer (even though he's more a hard-boiled reporter who's now a vampire who runs a night club and occasionally helps his friend the detective).

The other aspect that makes Cold Streets soar is the fact that everyone pulls together to solve the various problems, and while the solutions don't always work perfectly, it's great to see people work together to create such inventive solutions. This camaraderie between the three is something I truly liked, as it gave the book a subtle warmth, and made the characters feel stronger and more well-rounded.

This is the ninth installment of The Vampire Files, yet it feels completely fresh. Elrod is a mistress of context, adding exactly what you need to understand who Jack is, and what place in his life we're at without slowing down the story for an instant. Her series is a fabulous approach to a genre that can seem so narrow The "rules" of a vampire world are well rooted in myth and expectation, but Elrod's work is consistent and new.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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