Series: Nightfall Syndicate #1
Published by Samhain Publishing on February 17th 2009
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: References to rape, one brief semi-graphic sex scene
Reviewed by: Abigail
Mafia hit man. Vampire. The criminal underworld just got a whole lot darker. The Nightfall Syndicate, Book 1 Business has never been better for hit man Karl Vance. Boston is awash in mafia blood, and Vance has a certain fondness for blood. He’s a master vampire—one of the most powerful of his kind. Having sworn to never again feed on the blood of innocents, Karl preys instead on Boston’s criminal underworld. Which makes him a valuable asset to those who deal in death. Maria Ricardi intends to use that asset to its full extent in order to gain power within her patriarchal crime family. Vance thinks he’s been hired to keep track of the family’s princess, but she’s got a plan to get her hands dirty and earn the respect she deserves. And she’s not above using their instant attraction to get what she wants. That driving ambition draws the attention of a rival clan’s newest and most dangerous “consultant.” Alejandro Delgado, Vance’s centuries-old nemesis. Delgado zeroes in on the one chink in Vance’s armor—his fondness for the headstrong Maria. When she becomes enslaved by Delgado’s unnatural kiss, only one thing is certain. Vance has to decide which he wants more. To settle the score—or rescue her soul.
If The Godfather or The Departed had vampires, they would probably feel a lot like Blood Vice.
It was a beautiful night for murder, but wet work was wet work and had to be done regardless of conditions. –Blood Vice
This was the first book that I’ve read that came with a warning printed in bright red ink on the back cover:
Warning: Intense, graphic mafia-related violence, profanity, gangster slang, assassinations, fang punctures, explicit vampire sex, betrayal, greed, murder, gangland warfare, pervasive supernatural mayhem, large-scale explosions, and extremely expensive Italian suits.
With that warning in mind, I was a bit leery as I started Blood Vice. I wasn’t sure if this book would be an assault on its readers from start to finish. But not to worry, this was a fun mafia infused vampire tale. And the warning is only partially accurate.
Vance is a hitman par excellence for hire, using his vampire skills to eliminate the corrupt and criminal members of humanity, and what better way to do than working for the mob. When mob princess Maria starts calling the hits, she and Vance form a lethal team, one that attracts the unwanted attention of not just rival Families, but Vance’s nemesis as well. The vampire Alejandro is more than willing to hit Vance where it will hurt the most, and despite Vance’s attempts to keep Maria at arms length, she’s become important to him in a very dangerous way. As if that isn’t enough for Vance, the Order of the Thorn has come to visit:
Even predators have predators. The Thorn is humanity’s answer to the supernatural beings that prey upon it. Thorn knights are trained to execute vampires, weres, sorcerers, half-breed demons and all manner of supernatural threats with ruthless efficiency. They use a wide array of weapons depending on their target, from low-tech silver-sheathed swords to high-powered assault rifles with special ammo. While the Thorn is dedicated to eradicating threats to humanity, there are times when a supernatural creature can earn clemency, but always under strict conditions. Violation of the terms means an instant death sentence. The Order of Thorn was formed after the fall of Camelot, gathering knights and mages sworn to protect humankind from any shadow of evil. The Order is an extremely secretive knighthood with strict hierarchies, wealth that surpasses that of the Vatican, and a global reach. –KeithMelton.com
I loved this concept of the Thorn and would have liked to have seen more of an emphasis on them in Blood Vice, but it sounds like they will play a more prominent role in Book Two of The Nightfall Syndicate. Here’s hoping.
As for the character of Vance, he is more of a classic vampire than we often read in this genre. Coffins, crucifixes, and sunlight all play a part in his life. What isn’t as common is how he was portrayed as having a conscience. His self-loathing balanced with a hard won acceptance of reality was fascinating to read about. He would brutally dispatch a human and afterwards endure the pain of kneeling on Holy Ground to offer a prayer for the life he had just taken. He never prayed for himself though, he knew he was damned and didn’t see the point, but he would pray for every life he took.
Maria was a bit annoying for me and I found it difficult to sympathize with her as a wannabe mob leader. She had no problem whatsoever with any of the corrupt goings on within her Family, whether racketeering, murder, or prostitution. She only wanted her piece of the pie. The chapters told from her perspective were my least favorite.
All in all this was a fun read, a bit different than the usual urban fantasy, but not in a bad way. Full of Wise Guys and Mob politics. There is a lot of action in this book, and while there is an element of romance, it isn’t nearly as prominent as the blurb would have you believe. This book is about killing people in bloody and creative ways, and even more than that, its about vengeance.