Monday, 28 February 2011

Review: Hard Day's Knight by John G. Hartness (& Post of the Author!)

Hard Day's Knight by John G. Hartness
(Black Knight Chronicles, #1)
4 out of 5 stars

Has anyone noticed that vampires are always sexy? In contemporary fiction you can tell someone is a vampire when: he sparkles/has enough sex drive to feel the need to hit on anything or anyone that crosses his path/is so damn gorgeous you can't resist him. Now, lets throw that image overboard. You're about to meet the dorkiest vampires in fiction.

When Mr. Hartness was talking about his book on a forum on Goodreads, I knew I had to read this book. The concept of two fanged creatures that have super strength and yet not the perfect physique and countenance we are used to seemed perfect to get a break from all those vampire books out there. He has also been so very kind to tell a bit more about his extraordinary characters in a post below, check that out too!

Jimmy and Greg have been best friends since well, about forever. So logically, when they both are turned into creatures of the night, they rent a basement and live together as private detectives. When a lot of mysterious disappearances start to happen they end up in a mess they had never expected. I won't spoil the plot too much, but it involves zombies in trunks, unreliable witches, fighting some demons from hell and a conversation with God.

I really liked the bantering between our two "heroes". They both seem so.. human. At the end of a long night of doing detective work, they like to kick off their shoes, get a bag of blood and game a bit. They're not super brave and do get scared at times. There even was a tiny bit of romance in the book, which I though was extremely cute and I liked how that turned out.

There's a lot going on in Hard Day's Knight, making this book nicely paced. Action scenes are alternated with talking and other bits and pieces that tell us more about the background of the boys. The sometimes a bit heavy side of the book is brightened by the completely inappropriate commentary of Jimmy. Some of his sarcastic remarks really made my day.

The only critique I would like to point out is that this book is too short. I wanted to know more, hear more background, be more sucked into this story. I really liked these guys, but I wish I could connect to them more. It could be a case of minor FBISD (First-Book-In-Series-Disease), and this problem will disappear in the next book of the Black Knight Chronicles, Back in Black. I would definitely read another book by this author.

In the first volume of The Black Knight Chronicles, detectives Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood investigate a series of mysterious disappearances with the help of the friend, Father Mike. The investigation is hampered by interference from the police, a dozen marauding zombies, a middle-aged necromancer, and the fact that our heroes can only look for clues by night. Because they're vampires. Vampire detectives kicking zombie butt all over town, what could be better?

Where did these guys come from?
Character development by John G. Hartness

I read a lot of vampire novels. And I really, really love the genre. I love the Anne Rice books before they got to be all about witches. I love the rip-your-throat-out fierceness of the Brian Lumley series. I love the kick-ass sexiness of the Anita Blake stuff, although I’ll admit to losing interest when she started getting laid more than me, but that could just be jealousy talking.

But I’m also a raving smartass, and that has the tendency to show up in all my writing. So when I was reading through a bunch of Anita Blake books back to back, one thought kept leaping to my mind - why are all the vampires hot?

I mean seriously, don’t these undead ever bite any fat people? Or any dorky people? With the exception of one dude on a couple episodes of True Blood Season 1, I couldn’t come up with any geek vampires. And since I’m a comic book geek from way back, I decided to write a vampire series for my people - the geeks.

I built Jimmy and Greg as a classic Laurel and Hardy comedic duo - the tall skinny funny guy and the short fat straight man. Then I laid a bunch of my own characteristics on top of them - love of comics, love of science fiction movies, love of cheap beer and video games, that kind of thing. So by the time I was finished, I had a
couple of regular guys who graduated from a state university in South Carolina, got turned into vampires, and decided to live out their Batman fantasies on the mean streets of Charlotte.

I wanted them to be the counterpoint to all the sexy, brooding vampires that seem to fill the bookshelves today. The boys might not be crazy about everything in their life, but for the most part they’re okay with staying up all night, playing video games and reading comic books. And solving the occasional crime to help pay the rent.

Jimmy is the smartass of the duo, while Greg is the more sincere, heartfelt guy. But Greg is certainly the smarter of the two, while Jimmy gets by on wit and wisecracks. I enjoy writing their dialogue, and the supporting cast is a lot of fun, too. Hopefully you’ll all enjoy reading the books as much as I enjoy writing them, and stick around for the ride for a long time!

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