Why isn’t this book awesome?
It’s got a great lurid title (Red…White…AND BLOOD!); a pulpy, over-the-top premise (the President is being stalked by a serial killer on the campaign trail, and only the OFFICIAL VAMPIRE OF THE UNITED STATES can stop him!); and it ends with a battle between the President’s vampire and a personification of American urban legends on Air Force One. This should be a blast.
Unfortunately, it’s completely tone deaf. Laden with metaphysical threats like “You would not survive in a world that admitted things like me exist”, and wallowing in Nathaniel Cade’s mopey vampire angst, it’s intolerably self-serious for a book where the President is being stalked by the Bogeyman. Except when it’s not, and the author relies on thuddingly cute cinematic shorthand, like when the omniscient, third-person narration asks, “Wait–what?” during a shocking turn of events at a press conference. If this book were a movie, and it certainly seems like it hopes to be, it can’t decide whether it’s a supernatural Men In Black or The Bourne Undeadity.
I hate to bring up author Christopher Farnsworth’s career as a screenwriter, but heck, it’s on the back of the book. Not for the first time in this series, he’s written something that feels a lot more like a screenplay treatment than a novel. In addition to the double-take in the narration mentioned above, there’s a scene early on where Cade’s handler Zach Barrows muses that whatever’s going on now, it’s not as awkward as what happened forty minutes earlier. Cut to “FORTY MINUTES EARLIER…” It’s a sign of lack of sophistication on the author’s part that he can’t separate what’s acceptable as shot directions from proper narrative description.
Peppered with chapter epigraphs from real life serial killers and villainous female characters who are little more than fuck machines, there are probably more serious affronts in Red, White, and Blood than its lack of tonal consistency and the ill-conceived mechanics of its supernatural characters’ biological processes. But, damn it, I read books like this for fun, and Farnsworth continues to wander in all the wrong directions. Oh, the hell of this bad-ass undead existence, indeed.