They live among us, abhorred, marginalised, despised. They are vampires, known politely as Sunless. The job of policing their community falls to the men and women of the Sunless Housing and Disclosure Executive - SHADE. Captain John Redlaw is London's most feared and respected SHADE officer. But when the vampires start rioting in their ghettoes, and angry humans respond with violence of their own, even Redlaw may not be able to keep the peace. Especially when political forces are aligning to introduce a radical answer to the Sunless problem, one that will resolve the situation once and for all…
I have heard a lot about the book of James Lovegrove, who is well known for his “Age of .. series” and have been wanting to read some of them for quite some time now. After finishing “Blood Oath” by Christopher Farnsworth I got a taste for that sort of vampire fiction. Where the romance is left out and the focus is on action. I found this in back in Redlaw but on top of that also a nice display of engaging storytelling and a great character John Redlaw.
Redlaw takes place in a London that has both humans and vampire, or how they are referred called in Redlaw “Sunless”. The sunless do not reign free but are detained in several Residential Area’s. These area host a number of sunless, but the areas are not blocked from the world, instead they have a fence around it and the perimeter is guarded by a special task force called Sunless Housing and Disclosure Executive, SHADE in short. It is their task to make sure that the humans are not harmed and that the sunless are similarly not harmed. It was pretty cool to read the prologue of Redlaw where you see a young boy near the fence, who takes a leap over the fence and there is reference “To keep them out” but this isn’t implying what I thought it was. This great introduction got me grounded to my seat, I just had to finish this book.
In the midst of this all you get to meet up with the main protagonist John Redlaw. When I first got to read about him stepping out of the car I just new he was bad-ass. But I was only partially correct. John Redlaw is a complicated character with a rich past. What I liked about him was that he was not a all powerful rookie. John is past his prime, but due to his experience and honed skill he can surely stand his man in fight. Next to having quite the awe-inspiring reputation on the sunless, he also is a man of faith going for the preacher type. You could clearly see that some of his discussions were based on his faith. What was striking to see is that he was more of a guardian for both factions instead of being an all avenger for the humans. I found this a great feature of his personality, that as the story progresses, John perspective changes more due to a nice set of events, occurring both in the sunless society and SHADE. But what still leaves me with some questions about John is, I know his partner was killed by sunless but has he become bitter by this event of is there more to it? And what of his family, doe he has or had any? Or is his sole devotion to his work? I am very eager to find out if he had a wife and a family but due to an event of the sunless they aren’t anymore?
As I mentioned John is not the all avenger that has to eradicate the vampire threat. Others in SHADE however are. One of John colleagues, Khalid, takes a great joy in “dusting” the vampires and it is in this difference in personalities that there are several clashes; from arguments to fights between John and Khalid. I discarded the tension between Khalid and John as an addition to the storyline and showing the determination, conviction and history and John character. In the end there was nice play into the hatred against the sunless into the plotline. Some other people in SHADE are also not what they seemed to be.. A nice unexpected twist led up to an interesting turn of events. Showing John in what he does best.
In Redlaw you see two point of views, the first being from John Redlaw but the other from Giles Slocock an member of the parliament. As you follow John you see a interesting view of his vision of the vampire infested London. But with the addition of the government into Redlaw really made the story for me come together. The parliament has there own plans for the sunless, bordering more on the sunless hater side, there are plotting to do something terrible to the sunless society. With the plans clear to John he is doing everything he can to stop this from happening..
Another addition in the world that James Lovegrove created was that not only is SHADE upholding the law. Next to SHADE there are also the Stokers, a sort of vigilante-like order that has its mind on putting a few stakes through some escaped vampires. Opposite the Stokers is the PETS, who fight for the ethical treatment of the sunless. With the political and citizens additions into Redlaw it just feels more than a standard run of the mill vampire story. James Lovegrove created a great concept and utilized it in more than one way with Redlaw.
In the end Redlaw really made my day. Showing again a nice take on vampire fiction but with a full-tilt action (Cindermakers, aqua sancta grenades and Allium sativum bombs, any takers?) and bloody violence backing it up. But also offering more. In Redlaw, James Lovegrove has created a great concept showing an vampire invaded and contained London that both has supporters and rebels to the rights of the vampires, a stronger than ever main protagonist John Redlaw, and to top it off a great fast paced and engaging and movie-like writing style. Recently the second book has come out Redlaw: Redeye and I cannot wait to start on it.
Review by Jasper de Joode
9/10 from 1 reviews
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