ADAM THIELEN — INTEGRAL — 2017
A strange book about vampires, magicians, called mages, and a criminal imbroglio in this nocturnal and magic society. Normal people, that is to say humans, are marginal in the story, though they do play an ancillary role now and then. The main characters are the vampires who are all members of an agency in Kansas City that is investigating vampiristic crimes. Mages are locked up in universities that are no campuses but plain prisons and they are trained in their magic but also trained in fighting, close combat and other war-time techniques. We do not know why and this is kept nicely secret within these universities that have their own security system.
Apart from that the story is a crime story in the style of “Person of Interest.” A little bit difficult at first for a few chapters that are dealing with a case that has nothing to do with the main case. This introduction is definitely too long and in fact not needed at all. When finally, we are in Kansas City and confronted to the case that is the main course of the meal we can find some tempo and even energy that creates suspense, expectations, surprises and various predictable or non-predictable developments.
This world is of course completely rotten with corruption. The boss of the investigation service in Kansas City is trying to liberate one seat on the Vampire Committee for himself by having the oldest member assassinated by a mage he has to bring out of campus, which is difficult since these mages have anklets that cannot be taken off, except by some cruel magic.
Rotten with corruption too because some private corporations are inventing drugs intended to be for vampires. These drugs are of course illegal and run underground, but it is a very juicy and profitable black market activity for people who like money.
The security system of the university is just as rotten as the vampire investigation service and society at large, and the boss of the service who is also a firearm instructor is revealed as taking all kinds of grenades out of the armory and selling them on another black market, the black-market of weapons, though the novel does not make much of this, except for the last grenade, a polonium grenade that has the particularity to kill mages, that is to say to go through their skin protection.
It all starts when a mage, in this case a young girl, Sandra, is reported as missing on campus. The campus security service asks for the help of the vampire investigation service. That leads to a complicated story with blackmailing, assassinations, extortions of anything valuable, thefts, robbery, assault of corporate buildings, thwarted digital surveillance and communication, hacking and many other imaginable crimes.
Unluckily the only sympathetic girl of the story is killed by the polonium grenade, the mage Sandra Haulstein, and the survivors get justice against their two rotten bosses, one retires and the other is bluntly killed after trying to kill one of his agents after confessing his corruption. Simple, my dear Watson.
You might find these vampires a little bit too human since they eat, drink and smoke anything they want. Blood is a treat from time to time, especially to regenerate their crumbling bodies when attacked, wounded, or anything worse. The magicians, mages, are not really exploited and you will not get much from and about their magic. Too bad. I would have enjoyed a little bit of pottering.
But as an entertaining reading for adults, it is OK. I guess some late or older teenagers might also enjoy it. It is more meant for male readers than female readers. At the same time the book ends up on an important color-non-invisibility that is reassuring about the USA and their race problem. “A dark-skinned man named Freddy, . . . “Tha’ was nice,” . . . “Might be tha bess I evah had.” . . . “Was that tha body magic?” . . . “If ya say so.” . . . “Ya ‘ave ta miss tha outside,” he said. . . “Tha’s rough.” “Dark-skinned” means black if we believe the language (“N***a ya black!). But that ends up the novel on a touch of black magic because this Freddy is in bed with someone we could consider as dead:
“Sandra Haulstein suppressed the urge to rise and retreat to her room, choosing instead to bask in a warm euphoria of contentment for a bit longer. Such simple moments are not to be trifled, for there may come a time when things are not so simple, and life’s story comes to an…”
Let’s just stop on this suspended promise of a resurrection in some not too distant future.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU