Solaris Books, out now
In an England where the asylum seekers are vampires – otherwise known as the Sunless – maintaining the law can be difficult, particularly when you don’t know who to trust.
There are times when you read through a new novel, and you fully expect to find a news story appearing that someone has snapped up the rights to a film or television version of the book. That’s the case with Redlaw, which sets up its world so credibly that by the time you’re halfway through, you feel as if it’s the fifth or fifteenth tale you’ve read set in this particular slightly askew version of the UK.
Written with a sharp satirical edge that never gets in the way of the horror or the detective element of the story, Redlaw sets up its rules for its vampire society – as least as far as they’re understood by the protagonist, a member of SHADE, the force set up to keep them under control – and then proceeds to break them where necessary. For some reason Edward Woodward’s performance as Robert McCall in the 1980s series The Equalizer kept coming to mind: Redlaw himself has a world-weariness that comes from having seen it all before, but there’s something inside him that keeps him going.
The treatment of organized religion in vampire books can sometimes offend those who believe, but James Lovegrove gives us men with a faith that has been tested but still holds true (Father “Dago Red” Mulcahy in MASH springs to mind as an earlier similar sort of character) – whereas his lack of faith in politicians and businessmen is very clear.
Verdict: Well-written, gripping and hopefully the start of a long-running series. 8/10