Review: The President's Vampire / Author: Christopher Farnsworth / Publisher: Putnam Adult / Release Date: Out Now
The President’s Vampire is the follow up to Blood Oath, Christopher Farnsworth’s debut novel. It tells, or continues to tell, the story of Nathaniel Cade, an ancient vampire sworn to protect the Presidents of America, the nation itself and its people against all enemies, even those of a supernatural persuasion...
It’s an interesting premise, but one that is sadly squandered in the opening chapters by a bizarre (bordering along the lines of ludicrous) battle between Cade and Osama Bin Laden – yes, you did read that right.
Cade’s enemies for this sequel are a race of man-snakes ingeniously called, um, Snake Heads, and Osama has been injected with a virus derivative that causes him to mutate into the aforementioned snake-like ones and go toe to toe with the President’s vampire, kung-fu style.
It’s a sorry start, to be completely honest. If the fight was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek then this would have been a perfectly acceptable beginning to a darkly humorous novel, but we are expected to take this at face value and consider The President’s Vampire as a set horror/action adventure, and as such the novel falls flat on its arse from the opening hook.
Oh dear springs to mind. In this second outing, Cade is pitted against the ruthless Snake Men who transform their victims into instant converts in mere seconds. Cade is partnered with Zach Burrows, his human handler, in their desperate search to stop the outbreaks and get to the real villain of the piece. Trouble being, the villain of the piece is telegraphed from the beginning and would in fact have only been more obvious if he painted ‘Villain’ onto his back and jumped up and down shouting, ‘No, really, it’s me.’
But despite being a crack team called in to handle cases deemed too weird for normal folk, Cade and Zach utterly fail to see the blaringly obvious until far too late.
The President’s Vampire makes matters worse by a series of grand posturing from the central characters that take up the next chunk of the book. Eyes begin to glaze. Yet, The President’s Vampire could have been saved by efficient use of prose and multi-dimensional characters that struggled and suffered through each chapter to a tear-jerking conclusion.
Nah, why bother, Cade never really gets into trouble with his superman style vampiric abilities. He’s practically unstoppable. Zach Burrows (the human handler) is left to take up the slack and make mistakes that, considering his position in the hierarchal system of things, smacks of gross incompetence. The women are defined by their sexuality in a quite frankly offensive manner and the remaining supporting cast are as lifeless and flat as a sun-baked rock.
To put it bluntly, there’s nothing new on offer. Christopher is a screen writer and this novel has already been optioned by producer Lucas Foster - the man behind Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Law Abiding Citizen, among many others. Foster says: ‘It always starts with the character for me. Cade has an amazing history, a great attitude and a great set of powers. He is a complete movie figure.’
And this is the problem: The President’s Vampire is written with a film option in mind. It feels like it’s been made for the market and comes across as soulless and as uncaring as its main protagonist.