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The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth

Please note that The President’s Vampire is a direct sequel to Blood Oath and that this review may contain some minor spoilers. Got it? Good, now on with the show…

For 140 years, Nathaniel Cade has been the President’s Vampire, sworn by a blood oath to protect the President and America from their supernatural enemies. Cade’s existence is the most closely guarded of White House secrets: a superhuman covert agent who is the last line of defense against nightmare scenarios that ordinary citizens can only dream of.

When a new outbreak of an ancient evil – one that Cade has seen before – comes to light, he and his human handler, Zach Barrows, must track down its source. To ‘protect and serve’ often means settling old scores and confronting new betrayals . . . as only a century-old predator can.

A couple of weeks ago I happily devoured Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth. Politics, vampires and the seriously-deranged mad scientist proved to be a real winner. I enjoyed the novel a great deal, so much in fact that I decided that I needed to read the sequel as soon as my schedule would allow.

Events pick up about a year after the first novel, and Zach Barrows has settled into his new role as Cade’s presidential liaison. They have learned how to co-exist with one another and their fledgling bromance has continued since their first adventure. Barrows still makes snarky comments and Cade’s drier than dry sense of humor still rubs him up the wrong way but you can feel a sense of grudging respect between the two.

Cade and Barrows foes this time out are a nasty bunch of human/reptile hybrids. Nicknamed Snakeheads their venomous claws and bite pass on a virus that mutates any exposed into the same creatures. Cade has met this horror before but where are they coming from now? Much like the events in book one the answer to that question isn’t as black and white as it first seems. In the world of political power games everything is a murky shade of grey.

Farnsworth knows exactly what buttons to press when it comes to satisfying my inner action junkie. There are a plethora of terrific moments, but one in particular stands out above all the others. Like some kind of vampiric James Bond, Cade arrives on a ship in a rather spectacular fashion. This scene is just the right mix of breathtaking and utterly badass. The fact that Cade’s entrance is done with such a quiet cool makes it even more fun, I’ll admit the awesome one-liner he delivers helps as well.

Once again there are a few flashbacks dotted at various points in the story that help highlight key moments from Cade’s long life. Farnsworth doesn’t always signpost the details of a historical figure and it’s become a bit of a game to try and spot the references. A member of famous American political family shows up *cough* Kennedy *cough* and there’s also a nice nod to H P Lovecraft that made me smile.

Throughout the narrative there are a handful of suggestions that there is something much larger still lurking in the shadows. Two books down, and there have been just a few subtle hints as to the powers that exist on “The Other Side”. I like this slow, drip-feed approach, adds a nice tension to proceedings. But this can’t go on forever and it does finally appear that things are all about to kick off. The President’s Vampire ends with a declaration of war from Zach Barrows, an upping of the ante so to speak. The events in this novel leave little doubt that the rules of the game have changed, and the appropriate response to The Other Side needs to change with it. I was left with a burning curiosity about where things are going to go next. Bring on the darkness, I’m looking forward to it.

The President’s Vampire is published by Hodder is available now. The next book in the series, Red White and Blood, is due for release in the UK in 2013, I can’t wait.

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