Redeye – Redlaw by James Lovegrove
John Redlaw is a vampire hunter gone rogue. As a former member of the British government organisation SHADE, he is well trained in the ways of the undead. But a sequence of terrible events, recounted in the first instalment of this series, has left Redlaw disillusioned with the methods and intentions of his former employers. He has gone on the lam and is now trying desperately to help the vamps avoid total destruction at the stake-laden hands of SHADE.
Redlaw flees Britain for the US to both lie low as well as investigate multiple murders of US bloodsuckers. But he’s an Englishman in New York (apologies Sting) and finding it difficult to get a lead on the grizzly killings. As his investigations begin to show results, he meets the feisty novice reporter, Tina ‘Tick’ Checkerly. Tina is ambitious to the point of being foolhardy, and is determined to break into the big-time of journalism. She is convinced that vampires and their killers is the way to go, and Redlaw might just be her ticket in to that hard world.
As the intrepid duo progress, they begin to realize that the vamp-killers are not ordinary, run-of-the-mill vigilantes. They are, instead, highly equipped, highly trained and of a military bearing. They also appear to be augmented with preternatural abilities. Redlaw becomes convinced that someone with very deep pockets is funding the systematic slaughter of non-dangerous vampires. And therein lies the difference in this vampire series and most others. The vamps here are not necessarily dangerous to humans and tend to prey on animals. That’s of little comfort to Timmy whose Labrador, Rufus, has just been drained by hungry Nosferatu. Still, at least Timmy gets to go to school on Monday. Dean Koontz would shit a brick at the premise to this series (he adores dogs, literally).
Red Eye is a fairly decent rendering of a very over-exposed concept. Vampires have been around a long time, thousands of years according to Anne Rice. Stories surrounding them can get very old very fast. Red Eye is a refreshingly novel approach to how the undead fit into the societies from which they came.
This book doesn’t do soppy. Redlaw is a hard-bitten (but not yet literally) defender of vampires who are just ordinary people infected with a virus. The vamps do get a sympathetic portrayal and are presented as mostly wretched outcasts just trying to survive below the radar in the US. Of course, the Red Eyes – which refers to those who are killing the vampires – have other ideas. But can Redlaw and Tina stop them?
All-in-all, this is a story with a strong plot, consistent characters, a fast pace and good writing. It is best suited to those who enjoy a meaty vampire romp and should prove a breath of blood-tainted fresh air after the tribulations of other books such as the mawkish Twilight lovefest.
Sult scale rating: 7 out of 10. Fairly enjoyable read with a dark edge to it. Don’t expect duvets and marshmallows with this one. It’s tough, exciting and has the feel of Gothic steampunk, although it is based in modern times (in this universe).