I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Bloodlines by Peter Hartog. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!
Goodreads: Bloodlines (The Guardian of Empire City #1)
Publication Date: 28 August 2018
Genre: Dystopian Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi Techno Thriller
When former hotshot homicide detective Tom “”Doc”” Holliday is recruited to join Special Crimes, he trades in his boring desk job for a second chance to do what he does best, hunt down killers. And his first case doesn’t disappoint: a murdered woman with a bogus past, her body drained of blood, and two eyewitnesses wasted on the designer drug goldjoy claiming a vampire did it.
For Holliday is no stranger to the unusual. He wields the Insight, a fickle clairvoyance that allows him to see the dark and terrible things that hide upon his world. After all, when you live in Empire City, where magic and technology co-exist, and humanity endures behind walls of stone and spell-forged steel, anything is possible.
Saddled with a team whose past is as checkered as his own, Holliday embarks upon an investigation that pits them against bio-engineered vampires, interdimensional parasites and the magical masterminds behind it all.
From nightclubs and skyscrapers, to underground drug labs and coffee shops, Holliday’s search for the truth will uncover a shadowy conspiracy that spans the ages, and forces him to confront a destiny he never wanted.
A native son of Massachusetts, Peter has been living in the Deep South for over 25 years. By day, he’s an insurance professional, saving the world one policy at a time. But at night, well, no one really wants to see him fighting crime in his Spider-Man onesie. Instead, Peter develops new worlds of adventure, influenced by his love of science fiction, mysteries, music and fantasy. Whether it’s running role-playing games for his long-time friends, watching his beloved New England sporting teams, or just chilling with a movie, his wife, two boys, one puppy and three cats, Peter’s imagination is always on the move. It’s the reason why his stories are an eclectic blend of intrigue, excitement, humor and magic, all drawn from four decade’s worth of television, film, novels, and comic books. You can learn more about Peter and his writing projects at peterhartog.com, or send him a tweet @althazyr.
TL;DR: Bloodlines was a unique and refreshing dystopian urban fantasy thriller that kept me hanging on in nervous anticipation until the very end. Hartog’s writing was evocative and made it easy to imagine the scenes unfold before me as if it were a TV series (seriously, this would be an awesome show?)! We follow along with a motley crew of characters that are flawed but extremely relatable and ultimately easy to root for, as they try to uncover the sinister workings behind a murder that literally goes beyond what meets the eye. This was an exciting thriller with fantastic world building, character development and a well paced mystery!
CW/TW: Mentions of drug abuse, addiction, suicide, self-harm, slavery, mass death/grave, incidents of abuse of women and children, scientific experimentation.
I’m starting to sound more and more like a broken record each time I come to write a review and say these words but… Bloodlines was really unlike any mystery/thriller that I’ve read before! Although I don’t read them often, I enjoy a good crime novel and I can count on one hand how many I’ve read that take place in a dystopian urban fantasy setting. I had no idea what to expect but I was immediately sucked into the story thanks to the compelling mystery and the intriguing cast of characters who form the Special Crimes Unit.
Hartog does a great job balancing character development, laying out the world building and pacing the mystery. This dystopian world came about as a result of decades of humans playing nuclear warfare combined with various pandemics. Empire City is an urban enclave that’s essentially New York City, only reformed as a result of the changed world. Minus the alien species, this world is basically what I imagined the future would look like when I was a kid—towering glass buildings, crazy advanced technology (including AI and hover/rail cars!) and mind-boggling scientific advancements. While the city itself can be dazzling, it’s also teeming with monsters of all sorts, and use of the goldjoy drug runs rampant across all levels of society. Hartog manages to successfully tie in many elements (social, political, religious) to a create a well-rounded story that was a treat to discover.
The story moves at a rapid pace with scene after scene of intense and thrilling action and plot twists as Detective Tom Holliday joins with Deacon Kole, a former Protector of the the Confederate States of Birmingham, Doctor Besim Saranda, of the alien Vellan species, and Leyla, Holliday’s ‘adoptive younger sister’ a tech genius with special powers. These characters are all flawed and sometimes even come across as morally grey although their need to do right by those that have been screwed over by society is what pulls them together. Despite their differences, this motley crew worked so well together and had great group chemistry and banter—there’s some delightful dry and sarcastic humour in this! Holliday was a really interesting protagonist who’s an intriguing mix of gruff detective and literary scholar (that often quoted Shakespeare and other classics throughout), and I enjoyed his narrative voice. I hope in the sequels more time will be spent getting to know the other members of the unit.
I did struggle a little towards the end with the sudden inclusion of a more mythical element to the storyline. From the beginning we already get horrifying, soul-sucking corrupt demons, which was cool, so I found this sudden addition a little jarring especially as it was so far into the unraveling of the mystery—and maybe this speaks more to my lack of ‘SFF thriller experience’ but it confused me a lottle. That said, this is only the first instalment in a new detective series and it’s clear that there’s much more than meets the eye in this story, and Hartog manages to easily reel you in and keeps you invested until the very end!
Have you read Bloodlines or is it on your TBR?