BloodList by P.N. Elrod as read by Barrett Whitener (08:39:59), was the first eaudiobook that I listened to on my new SmartPhone after I discovered that my library carried a wealth of eaudiobooks that I could listen to for free. It was the first book I saw which was available and so I downloaded it based on the description and a brief sample of Whitener’s reading of it.
I’ve always had a weak spot for strange ladies. One very beautiful girl had even warned me that she was, get this, a vampire. But did I listen? No. Before you know it, I’m being chased by an ugly thug with a gun, and a bullet blasts its way through my back, and believe it or not nothing happened. I survived! How? You guess it. I, Jack Fleming, ace reporter, have been transformed into a vampire, which has its advantages. You never die, you never grow old, you sleep all day, and, best of all, you can hunt down your own murderer. (Synopsis on library website.)
Jack Fleming, is a reporter in 1936 Chicago who is trying to find his own murderer after coming back to life. While he knew the woman he was dating was a vampire, and they exchanged blood, being turned is not a sure thing in this universe. Jack spends his nights dealing with gangsters, nightclubs, and a British P.I., who turns out to be a good and thoughtful sidekick. Jack is a no-nonsense type, he’s practical, thorough, and ruthless. Everything you would expect from an investigative reporter from the 1930s.
I enjoyed the back-to-basics approach Elrod takes when it comes to vampires. Jack can’t last in the day time, let alone deal with the sun. He’s most comfortable resting on soil from his homeland (the farm he grew up on). He has some magical capabilities. He can turn into mist, become invisible, has trouble crossing water, and never ever sparkles. Not even his personality. This isn’t an angsty YA book about learning how to be a vampire, Jack just copes. He breaks into stores in the middle of the night helping himself to clothing and leaving cash behind. I liked the research Elrod must have put into the time period down to the amount of money he leaves behind as to what things would have cost in the ’30s. It’s this level of detail that makes the book interesting and Jack’s investigation of his own murder more of a noir feel than sci/fi or tea cozy mystery.
Whitener’s reading of the story was fairly well done, and, at the time I was quite impressed. But I’ve listened to several other books now am less impressed. While his voice changes for some of the characters was OK he doesn’t have an affinity for dialectsthat some of the readers I’ve listened to since have. I thought it was well produced, because you can’t ever hear a page turn (and yes, I’ve listened to some books subsequent where I can hear them turn a page fairly frequently) and there where no blatant pauses where there shouldn’t have been pauses. I also like that my library has it set up so you can listen to a sample of the reading because there are definitely some voices that would eventually grate on my nerves or which I will tune out. Whitener’s was neither of those.
I was excited to finally get around to reading something of Elrod (I keep saying reading because listening could refer to so many things), and I was not disappointed. She knows how to weave an exciting mystery, and I was kept guessing until the end. I figured out a few of the minor subplots, but was pleased to be intrigued up until the last read word. I must confess that I thought P.N. Elrod was a man until just a few minutes ago. And I will say this, she wrote Jack how a man writes a man and not how most sci/fi/fantasy writers write men. Which I think goes to show how well she writes. That I couldn’t tell her gender from her writing because the character was so in tune to who he would have been in that day and age. I feel sometimes people write men as they want them to be rather than what a person from that time and era would be like.
I liked the production so much, and enjoyed listening to a book being read so much, that it set me on a dangerous road and I haven’t been eaudiobook free since. I’ve found it so much easier to bring a book along on my trips if it fits inside my phone, and I like listening to a story on the train every morning and evening without lugging around a hardback 505 pages thick. (I love you Jim Butcher, but your hardcovers are monstrous!) If you like a good mystery and vampires who follow in the vein of older renditions of the supernatural creature, you will like this book. (Personally I subscribe to the thought that since vampires are made up creatures, however anyone wants to make them up is fine by me as long as they are consistent with the universe in which they exist.)