Nathaniel Cade, President Curtis's top secret vampiric super-secret agent returns to tackle the Boogeyman, a supernatural enemy from the Other Side that makes the killing rounds every so often. Taking human hosts, the entity grows as invincible as Cade, and has a fancy for using sharp weapons with maniacal glee for people carving. This time around the Boogeyman has help from another returning villain with a score to settle.
Christopher Farnsworth is a keep-it-to-the-action writer, the kind of mainstream author prevalent in today's supernatural horror novel arena, but it's through his characters that he provides the tone and mood polishing. His penchant for taking political digs (mostly at us Yanks) without long-winded excursions from the story proper keeps things lively in-between the backstory fill-ins fleshing out Cade's run-ins with the killing machine over the years--or It, as Cade prefers to call his eternal foe--and the dark dealings of the Shadow group that works to undermine the presidency and its policies.
Excerpts from Peter Levenda's Sinister Forces trilogy, quotes from Son of Sam and other serial killers, various real and fake news source snippets, and other sources (like Brad Steiger's Out of the Dark), are used to introduce each chapter, which at first is an interesting construction, but as the story develops, their discontinuity with the storyline becomes more distracting than complimentary.
What keeps this series going is not so much Farnsworth's modus operandi as it is his characters and how they speak and act, especially the love-hate relationship between Cade and Zach. There is just enough villainy, political intrigue, reluctant comradery, and hints of deep dark powers maneuvering everyone into preferred positions to provide reasons to keep reading. Which brings me back to those excerpts at the beginning of each chapter: once you're well invested into the book, they only get in the way. You may find yourself skipping past them as I did.
It's those little touches that create involving characters: Cade's habit of using slang terms garnered from living across the decades; Zach's inability to have a normal life now that he's Cade's coffin watchdog and needed day-tripper (when Cade's lying in that coffin during the daylight hours); a moribund arch-enemy that refuses to die, half zombie and half cold-hearted woman; and a vice-president with his own nefarious plans. The president's daughter takes a more active role in this novel, but her dislike and distrust of Cade, and her on-gain-off-again romantic involvement with Zach, undermine her decision-making abilities.
While the Boogeyman is strongest during the night, he can still move in daylight. Cade can't. This sets up the necessary tension when the president's secret service needs to take up the slack against an unstoppable enemy. Not helping anyone's morale is Cade's assessment that most of them won't survive, which he coldly tells them at the start, and their fear of the Boogeyman and Cade.
Spicing up his story with a little more sex this time around, Farnsworth keeps this series going through his even balance showing Cade's personality--and lack of it when you most expect it--and how Cade accepts and hates his existence. And most importantly, this is one vampire who isn't a vegetarian. A fact that leads to one of this novel's most important scenes, fatal choices, and guilt to bear for both Zach and Cade.
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