[For an audio version of this article, please listen to Episode 62 of Recently Read on The Incomparable podcast network.]
Heavenly, Illinois, 30 miles outside Chicago
Out of the corner of his eye, Special Agent Gabriel Ruiz watched his new partner with serious trepidation.
That’s the beginning of Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson. I’m Erika Ensign, and this is Recently Read.
This episode of Recently Read is a little different because I’m covering all three books in this slick, quick series of paranormal thrillers.
The first book in the series is Nightshades — a delightful and delicious snack of a book that was exactly what I needed. I really love a good take on what would happen if vampires were suddenly confirmed to be real, and this is that. It’s a minor splash followed by a return to typical ennui in the general population. As we now know, millions of people can basically ignore a deadly pandemic, so I think Melissa is vindicated in her prediction that folks can ignore vampires in our midst until they affect one’s community directly.
So yes, the FBI does institute a new unit specifically for tracking “shades”, as vampires are called, but it’s not a terribly well-funded unit. Which makes it a bit odd that one of the “golden boys” of the bureau volunteers to lead the Chicago division. What’s even odder is the consultant he convinces to work with him.
Oh yes, this series is an excellent example of the cop/not-a-cop genre. In this case, the not-a-cop just happens to be a vampire. And she’s only helping grudgingly for mysterious reasons of her own.
I bought the sequel mere moments after finishing this book!
That sequel is called Switchback. I gulped that book down in a single day, and I have zero regrets. I liked it even better than the first volume in the series. As a good second book does, Switchback builds out the characters and relationships, taking them to places that naturally follow from the first book. I liked all the characters when I met them in Nightshades, but after Switchback, I was INVESTED.
The final book in the trilogy is Outbreak. After inhaling the first two books in the series, I was happy-sad to see it come to a conclusion. Without spoiling specifics, I’ll say it’s a satisfying conclusion, but I’d still love more from these characters. It definitely rounds out the series and continues and/or completes the arcs of many of the characters, and that’s exactly what I look for in the final book of a series.
If you’re in the market for some quick, fun, occasionally mildly gory mystery-thrillers about a world with vampires — both as baddies and super-cool kickass ancient ladies who are very very much too old for this shit and would rather just work a desk job than try to ferret out the secrets of an international vampire cabal that’s up to no good, I encourage you to check out Nightshades. If you’re like me, you’ll hop right to the next two almost as quickly as a shade can zip across a room to rip someone’s throat out.
I’m Erika Ensign, and this has been Recently Read.