CITY OF THE DEAD: VOLUME ONE
From the City of the Dead series , Vol. 1
In this supernatural novel, a human police detective hunting a killer reluctantly joins forces with the vampires she abhors.
A special squad for vampire-related crimes has its first case, with human detective Iliana Dawn and her partner at the helm. Their modern world is still adjusting to the Great Revelation that outed vampires. The United States made bloodsuckers illegal, but as Georgia fights the federal law, most of them gather in Acheron, “dubbed the City of the Dead.” Dawn now has a crime scene with two human bodies—one staked to a wall—and a teen vampire inexplicably on the premises. It’s a tough case that only gets worse when her and vampire Marcus Knight’s bosses stick the investigators together. Neither is happy about it, though Dawn, as readers soon learn, has a good reason to hate “Fangers.” The homicide investigation puts them close to the Black Sail (“the group that enforces the laws of vampires”) as well as a mysterious substance that some Fangers apparently crave. As Dawn tries to unmask a murderer, she absorbs quite a bit of Fangers’ lore and may even reevaluate her dismal opinion of them. Roberts packs hefty worldbuilding into this series opener. There are, for example, numerous discussions about vampires, from how they survive without draining humans to the different “types” of the undead (including the garden variety Lichs). But Dawn leads the story with panache, a stubborn, able detective who more than holds her own in combat with vampires and humans. Her journals form the narrative, and while her voice is divertingly cynical, they offer largely traditional storytelling—plenty of dialogue and certain particulars saved for later reveals. Still, the mystery thrives, as further stake deaths (this time with vampire victims) complicate the investigation. Roberts wraps up the engaging novel satisfactorily but allows some questions, including about a 21st-century war between Russia and America, to remain unanswered for the sequel. An engrossing vampire tale with a richly detailed plot and backstory.