Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kindle Spotlight -- Blood Street

Carl Alves recently sent me a copy of his vampire novel Blood Street to review. Without further ado, here we go.

The story takes place in present-day Philadelphia. Low-level mobster Pat "The Goat" Adesso is searching for his friend Johnny Gunns one day. Well, after several stops, he manages to track him down at Gunn's girlfriend's house. To his horror, though, he finds both of them brutally murdered and disemboweled. And to make matters worse, the killer is still there. The Goat finds himself face to face with a pale stranger with superhuman strength and speed. The Goat barely survives the encounter, and reports back to his superiors he's just seen a real life vampire.

The crime family patriarch, Enzo Salerno, dismisses his claims as fantasy. However, when more victims turn up, dispatched in the same sick fashion, the culprit's seemingly inhuman characteristics become hard to ignore. Enzo orders an hunt to find him.

Meanwhile, vampire patriarch Magnus knows the killer is one of his brood named Alexei. He's incensed at Alexei for killing with such reckless abandon and drawing attention to their kind, but Magnus' lover Gabriella is quite fond of him and doesn't want any infighting. Nevertheless, Magnus knows he can't let this continue and must take action before they are discovered.

Also investigating the killings is government agent Mark Andrews. Realizing he and Enzo have a common enemy, he reaches out to the mafioso for a temporary alliance. Enzo, determined to catch Alexei, reluctantly agrees. Together, both sides set out to bring the vampire to justice, but are they about to start a war they can't win?

Blood Street is at its best when it focuses on vampires. They're just about my favorite monster, and I always enjoy stories about them. When this novel focuses on mobsters, it comes across as bad mafia fan fiction. Many of the human characters seem--to me, at least--to be mobster stereotypes. There's a particularly unpleasant mafioso named Big Fat Paulie (Family Guy fans should recognize that name). Then again, I'm hardly an expert on the mob, so Alves' portrayal may be accurate, but it just doesn't seem like it.

But it's not just the mobsters I have trouble buying into. Gabriella is wildly inconsistent in her actions. The author includes a scene in which she punishes a wife-beater, adding she enjoys bringing scumbags to justice. Yet she continually ignores the murderers in her own family. I feel this scene is unnecessary and only confuses the plot.

Fortunately, as I said, the vampire parts (Gabriella notwithstanding) are quite good. I enjoyed seeing them fight the mob to see who was the lesser of two evils, and there are some good fight scenes and a satisfying conclusion.

All in all, Blood Street's a mixed bag. There are good and bad parts, though I think the good outweighs the bad.

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