By Beau Smith
Vampires. It’s always been hard to get me interested in anything to do with vampires. For what seems to be forever, vampires have always been portrayed in novels, films and on TV as the romantic, gothic, elegant upper crust of the monster world. They are weighed down with angst, and they always dress a bit too GQ to suit my busted knuckles taste. Vampires were sissies, stuff girls read and mooned over. Needless to say, True Blood and Twilight aren’t on my must-have list. To date there has only been one vampire book that I’ve really enjoyed, (Cowboy And The Vampire by Clark Hayes and Kathleen McFall) – that is until now…
I was with my wife, Beth. She was shopping at the mall shoving other women out of her way to get to what she tells me are “Amazing-Must-Have-Deals-That-A-Knuckle-Dragger-Like-You-Will-Never-Understand.” I quickly took the opportunity to seclude myself within the confines of Borders Books, where I merely have to snort and grunt to rid the book isles of nerdy professor types that annoy me and stand in my way.
After looking through my usual spots within the stacks of books, fate stepped in, snatched my eyeballs and interest with an eye-popping black and red covered book in the New Release aisle. The title Blood Oath caught my eye because at first I thought it read Blood Bath. I figured with a title like that there had to be some wonderful, fictional violence that would inspire me to even more violent thoughts than I already collect in my very ugly little brain.
To make sure of the title, I hauled my little reading glasses out of my pocket and gave the book a better look. I was wrong on the title, it truly was Blood Oath and it was written by an author I had never heard of named Christopher Farnsworth. With my glasses on I also noticed the cover blurb “The Ultimate Secret. The Ultimate Agent. The President’s Vampire.” That really got my interest. It didn’t say The President’s hair dresser or tailor like most vampire related things would. It said AGENT as in Secret Service Agent. I’ve been researching the Secret Service since I was very young. I’ve always thought it was the coolest job in the world. That’s one of the reasons when I created Cobb: Off The Leash for IDW Publishing, I made Cobb a former Secret Service agent. There’s not a lot that I don’t know about the Secret Service (as much as a non-government person can know, anyway) so I figured this book was worth a glance through. I was so right. The book Blood Oath is brilliant fun.
Blood Oath is about a young political up-and-comer, Zach Barrows, that is “transferred” to a special division of Presidential protection that has been a ultra-classified for 147 years. Why the odd number of 147 years? Well, because that’s when President Andrew Johnson persuaded Nathaniel Cade, a vampire, to swear an oath to protect him and every President that comes after him. Not only is Cade to protect the President, but the United States as well.
Barrows is assigned to assist Cade on his missions. Barrows really sees this as a derailment of his political career, but once he finds out just what kind of things want to bump the U.S. hard in the night, we see some great character growth in Zach Barrows. Author Christopher Farnsworth puts on a writing school by giving the reader a character in Zach Barrows you don’t really like at first and then letting you get to know the character in a manner that is entertaining and has meaning.
I hate to use clichés, but the best way I can think of how to describe the vampire Cade is that if Jack Bauer from the TV show 24 were a vampire his name would be Cade. The difference is, Cade has a very subtle, dark sense of humor. Cade is also a Christian and carries the most admirable sense of loyalty, honor and manners that I’ve seen in a character in a very long time. Two sentences after Cade appears in the story you are dying to know more about him. Most vampires suck blood, Cade sweats testosterone.
The story is fast paced, never boring and has everything anyone would ever want in a sci-fi/horror/political/action/thriller. Farnsworth is a master at weaving a seamless thread of genres together. In my opinion, his use of dialogue is on the level of Elmore Leonard and Robert B. Parker.
There are a few extra treats in Blood Oath as well. Almost every chapter has a paragraph at the beginning from the “instruction manual” of the briefing book on Cade called “Codename: Nightmare Pet.” These are priceless and make you wish you could read the entire manual. There’s also a nice tip of the hat to some well known comic book creators and you’ll recognize their names when you read a certain scene in the story. I was very amused and enjoyed it – even though I wasn’t one of them.
The story is supremely well put together. If you’re a sci-fi/horror fan of any sorts you’ll be thrilled to know that in this book you’ll find: Nazis, mad scientists, werewolves, zombies, terrorist Frankenstein-like monsters, vampire sex, references to loads of stuff from Stonehenge to Roswell. All of them are taken serious and not thrown at you in a silly, over the top way. As an author, Farnsworth respects his readers.
I highly recommend that you go to the sites listed at the start of this feature and read the first chapter of the book, check out the video and catch up on the background. I also give Blood Oath my highest recommendation as a must buy item for your personal library or for you to give as a gift to someone you really like. I rate Blood Oath up there with my all time favorite fiction story The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker.
That’s the highest salute I can give any work of fiction that I’ve read.
I am hoping that Blood Oath is the first in a long line of stories about Cade – The President’s Vampire. I say here and now that I will buy and read all of them Farnsworth puts out. I’d love to read more new stories as well as past stories when he was protecting other Presidents, including the greatest President ever?Theodore Roosevelt.
Do not deny yourself, read this book. Tell others and tell them I told you. At some point I’m even going to get Blood Oath on audiobook so I can hear it read to me when I’m walking around with my iPod or driving in the truck.
If you do read it, make sure you write me and let me know what you thought. I’ll act like I really care–if you agree with me.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week: Planet Of The Vampires #1
Atlas/Seaboard Feb. 1975
Cover Art By Pat Broderick & Neal Adams
As most of you regular Knuckleheads know, I am a HUGE fan of the 1970s Atlas/Seaboard Comics. One of the best of the Atlas line was Planet of the Vampires written by one of my favorite writers-Larry Hama with art by Pat Broderick and Frank McLaughlin. This was a superior series and screamed of great sci-fi/horror. Make sure you look for it next time you’re at a convention or surfing eBay. You will thank me as always and maybe even name your fist son after me.
Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week: Sophia Bush
You know me and my taste in actresses, if they know how to shoot a shotgun in a movie, then I’m in lust.
This week, filling that bill, is the lovely Sophia Bush. She showed us all in the movie The Hitcher, that she could kick down a door, slide a shell in the chamber and fire a 12 gauge pump shotgun like a real woman. She’s done some TV work as well as other films, but The Hitcher remains a Busted Knuckles favorite. It’s also one of Sean Bean’s best villain roles.
Next time you hear a shotgun sound “Ker-Chack!” Think of sexy Sophia Bush pointing it at you.
This past weekend brought us some really A-List weather here at The Flying Fist Ranch. I made sure that I was out in it as much as possible, from my five mile morning hike to walking my highly mis-trained dogs, Chubb and Blue. The other evening we sat on the porch drinking cold Mexican beer and listening to Wang Chung. (Chubb really digs Wang Chung.) Blue, being the ever-alert Australian Shepherd that he is, doesn’t drink. He likes to keep his mind sharp in case there’s evil afoot and I need backed up. Chubb, my Australian Cattle Dog mix, is another story. She never passes up the opportunity for the chance to eat something alive or dead and share some of my beer. Being a little older, she’s prone to lean on the porch steps and ponder the wonderments of naps. She believes it’s the high life and enjoys living it.
That same evening we not only listened to some Wang Chung, (Or “Wang Chubb” as Chubb calls it) but we also enjoyed my “South Of The Border Playlist” that includes such Busted Knuckles favorite songs as:
- “They All Went To Mexico” by Willie Nelson & Santana
- “Mexican Bands” by Merle Haggard
- “Guero Canelo” by Calexico
- “Serenata” by Mason Ruffner
- “Guantanamera” by Los Lobos
- “Banditos” by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
- “Every Little Thing” by Raul Malo
It was a very pleasant time and I was able to forget about all the things and people that annoy me on a daily basis. (The list grows longer as I grow older.) One thing that I’m gonna have to get is a really nice, broken in Mexican sombrero, the kind Willie Nelson wore in the movie Barbarosa. That would be a hell of a hat to wear as I howl with the dogs.
Aaaaah…the high life of true relaxation.
See y’all next time.
The Flying Fist Ranch
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