Bloodshot by Cherie Priest
Bloodshot is the first in the Cheshire Red Series by Cherie Priest. The story is narrated by Raylene, a vampire/professional thief for hire. Raylene specialises in retrieving certain goods for her clients and of course her vampire abilities help enormously with this – night vision, ability to climb buildings and traverse the city using rooftops, extra strength and speed plus the ability to detect when people are nearby, coupled with a slight psychic sense all prove useful in this line of work!
At the start of the story Raylene meets her latest client, Ian, also a vampire who it seems has been captured and held in some sort of military experimentation zone – during which he lost his sight. Having now escaped he’s desperately trying to piece together any information he can uncover about the nature of the experiments and in particular his own case files as he thinks he has found someone who may be able to reverse the damage and restore his sight. Raylene takes the job and almost immediately opens up a can of worms that will not only affect her only livelihood but will also put her in the sights of whoever is rounding up and capturing vampires.
I did quite enjoy this book. I wouldn’t say I loved it however and I think part of that is that Raylene is a little difficult to like at the start of the story. I think that’s possibly because she’s trying too hard to inject humour into her narration and it doesn’t come over as entirely funny. Let’s face it – she’s a vampire, she kills people and she’s unemotional about it. Which to a certain extent is refreshing – she’s not wringing her hands about having to drink blood, she’s not torn about being a monster and there are no deep reflections on how she keeps her humanity. She’s a vampire. Plain and simple. Priest isn’t trying to bring anything new to that particularly myth – there’s no sparkly skin, Raylene sleeps during the day, she needs to feed every few weeks and she’s pretty tough to kill – unless you remove her head – which works pretty much for most critters! There is no garlic, crosses and stakes. In fact the vampirism is almost secondary to the story really. Raylene is pretty much a cat burglar with a difference.
That being established the story does pick up as Raylene becomes involved in a cat and mouse style chase with the men in black. She finds herself flitting from one part of the country to another as she tries to pick up a trail that has seemingly gone cold whilst staying under the radar of the military and other covert operations. As I mentioned above she has gained the wrong sort of attention and so the stakes have now changed quite a bit. Raylene now needs to find out what is really going on whilst staying at liberty – in fact if she ever wants to regain control over her life she must uncover who is behind Project Bloodshot.
The action undoubtedly picks up and the cast list grows to include a former navy seal (Adrian) who now performs under the Pseudonym Sister Rose. I did like this character and also enjoyed the affect he had on Raylene bringing out her rather unashamed-lecherous-cop-a-feel nature! I thought Adrian was a good addition to the cast and would make quite a good sidekick for Raylene.
In terms of the other vampire – Ian – well, I didn’t really have any feelings for him in fact I thought he was a bit of a weak link but perhaps his character becomes better defined in the next edition – which brings me to the next problem – it seems that this series is not set to continue. Apart from Hellbent (No.2) there have been no further instalments and it appears unclear if the series will continue. I think that’s a bit of a shame and also now means I’m conflicted about continuing! In one respect I would like to know what happens next and the story definitely isn’t concluded.
Overall, started out a little weak but definitely developed – particularly in terms of Raylene who began the story seemingly as a cold hearted loner but who during the course of the book demonstrated a softer side and wound up with an odd bunch of misfits becoming part of her life.