This is a collection of books 4-6 in the Jack Fleming, Vampire PI series and contains entertaining supernatural stories which leaven the 'vampire' moments with the humanity of our bloodsucking protagonist, Jack. He's a great hero because he's fallible, seems to get shot and knocked out rather regularly, cares for his girlfriend Bobbi and his friend Charles Escott and tends to blunder around not being quite sure what he's doing a lot of the time. Perhaps his blundering and being shot may pall over time but at the moment it makes for a very different, and very likeable, hero.
ART IN THE BLOOD
"Art in the Blood" sees Jack coming to the rescue of a man at a party and then being sucked into problems within the art world. Alex Adrian was a famous artist but hasn't done anything since his wife committed suicide; Evan Robley and his sister Sandra are also artists and when more suspicious events start taking place, including a death for which Alex Adrian might be responsible, Jack and Escott have to unravel the plot and work out what's really going on. The Chicago underworld plays its part as usual with more dodgy characters who have it in for Jack and Escott.
This story gives us more of an insight into the relationship between Jack and Bobbi as well as Jack needing to use his powers of vampire hypnosis more and more, leading to more people finding out what he truly is. It's another great read with a lighthearted feel and yet sometimes a darker undertone.
FIRE IN THE BLOOD
The first page in this book is great fun as we meet Jack apparently stripping Olivia Vandemore's evening gown from her and about to sacrifice her on an altar to Sabajajji, the Spider God. Fortunately this is just part of the novel he is writing rather than reality - although reality for Jack Fleming, Vampire PI, is often as bloodthirsty as this novel.
Jack and Charles Escott, Private Agent, are summoned to see Mr Sebastian Pierce, a rich retired Chicago man who tasks them to find a valuable bracelet that his daughter's boyfriend or a friend of his may have stolen. Jack finds himself shadowing the daughter to Bobbi's club and soon enough they stumble into murder and mayhem. A new member of the Chicago Underground, Vaughn Kyler, comes into play in this book and he's a particularly creepy individual who is resistant to Jack's vampire hypnosis. This book also sees the darker side of Jack having an outing after an episode of hypnotising goes rather wrong. Once again Jack finds himself in dodgy situations and only escapes by the skin of his teeth - is this ability going to pall any time soon?
The ending of this book is rather open and in fact leads directly into the next story, "Blood on the Water", although fortunately this episode does reach some sort of a conclusion. However Jack's rather more off balance in this book because of the darker side of his powers and we are learning more about him through it. Another great episode in this excellent series - a series that it probably pays to read in order.
BLOOD ON THE WATER
This story starts directly after "Fire In The Blood" and I think it would probably be rather difficult to understand everything that's going on, along with the fairly large cast of characters, without reading some of the previous books.
Jack Fleming, Vampire, had a bit of a shock in the last book when his vampiric nature got away from him and he nearly killed a woman. He's still struggling with the aftermath of those events in this story and is unwilling to use his hypnosis skills but equally doesn't want to talk about it to the rather perceptive Charles Escott, his partner.
The 'baddie', Vaughn Kyler, who we first met in the last book plays a significant role in the beginning of this story when he gives Jack the ultimatum to leave town or die. This gives Jack huge moral qualms - Jack knows that if he doesn't kill Kyler then neither Charles nor Bobbi will be safe, and yet how can he become a murderer? I think the way that the author showed Jack's fears about this was excellent.
In this story everyone is still chasing the bracelet from the last book and Jack enlists the help of Gordy, another local crime boss who's helped them in the past. Unfortunately a turf war seems to be breaking out with a new entrant, Angela Paco, playing her part as well. The three-sided war looks to be unstoppable and Jack has to decide on his actions with Kyler.
Once again, as in most of the other stories, Jack gets himself into various fixes and nearly dies. His physical limits are tested in a new way and there is more violence surrounding him. In the earlier books there was a lot of situation comedy where Jack was acting like a ghost and it happens again, very amusingly, in this book. However the turf war in this book lends it a darker feel and no doubt sets up for further instalments.
In short, it's another good read and we're getting further and further into Jack's character as the stories continue but this wouldn't be a good first book for a reader in this series.