Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Declan Finn's Murphy's Law of Vampires

(Author's Note: I will be on Declan Finn's podcast The Catholic Geek on Sunday April 2 from 7 PM till 9 PM. You can look for my review of Love at First Bite, the sequel to Murphy's Law of Vampires at about 9:05 PM that night. So tune in, or log on or whatever it is you do with podcasts and it'll be an awesome time.

Also, for the record, this is the second book in the series. I did review the first one.)

Way back, in the Late Pleistocene Era,  I went to high school with a guy named Brandon, but we all called him Monk. I still do. Monk is now married to the greatest sister in law of the heart EV-AR Melissa and has three young boys who I miss dearly since my move back home to Michigan. He has since cured himself of the malady I am about to discuss. His timing was epic.

I know it's weird, and most of you won't get this, but I can't help think of him while reading Declan Finn's Murphy's Law of Vampires  because the main character, Marco Catalano, is a lot like Monk was in high school: He knows an awesome girl. He loves the awesome girl. He hangs out with the awesome girl. He just can't work up the gumption to tell the awesome girl how awesome she is and that he wants to be her man. Back in high school, and into my early twenties, I called this maneuver "Pulling a Monk." Marco appears to be a natural. And he's Catholic too. I wonder if he needs a nickname...

The thing about Marco is he's kind of like a Monk crossed with a Chuck Norris and a little bit of Buffy thrown in. Yeah, he's a physical bad ass but he's scared of a woman. Marco kills vampires in hand to hand combat using skill, brains and luck, along with the occasional assist from his friends and comrades. Monk, uhh...played football and baseball, but vampires? Not so much. At any rate...

I really like Marco as a character. Like, I want to hang out with the guy sometime. I know he doesn't exist, but Finn does a good enough job with the character that it's like being in the same room with a real person. Catalano has enough foibles to make him believable and enough confidence to make him worth reading. He's a really good guy with a really dark streak that he's not really comfortable with. I don't blame him. He fights for what's good and right but sometimes he has to kill vampires. He sees them as people and he struggles with it.

Marco's I-wish-she-was-my-girlfriend is named Amanda. She's a vampire, but this is where Finn turns vampirism on its head.  Amanda is a good vampire and a good Christian. She is a bloodsucker, it's true, but she is neither evil nor a sparkly emo whiner. Amanda is a hard-nosed, very intelligent and a good warrior in her own right. She faces down some men who give her problems because of her incredible good looks without breaking a sweat. She's just as gutless when it comes to talking to her I-wish-he-was-my-boyfriend but she's hardcore when it comes to everything else.

The book sizzles. The action sequences are impressive. Finn obviously spent hours mapping out the best way to do violence to vampires and other things before writing this. He has very carefully choreographed the fighting in this book. It's impressive. Marco and company are smart and dangerous. Catalano knows that he has to out-plan his enemies and he does so well. The action is so well described that I found myself moving in my seat along with the movements in the fighting. It was exciting. I had my adrenaline going. I wanted to kick ass along with him. It's probably better that I didn't though. I'm a three hundred pound man. I would have gotten in the way.

Something I've often commented on is the need for an epic villain. Finn delivers. Given the fact that the characters in the book can't figure out what Mr. Day is, I won't spoil the fun. But he is pure, unadulterated evil for a reason. He is deadly and vicious. He has a very interesting back story. He's the kind of guy that REALLY REALLY REALLY deserves every terrible thing that happens to him. He's tough as hell and smart. This is no Cobra Commander making stupid mistakes. Day is smart and savvy. He makes chaos because that is his nature. He is cocky but he's damn near indestructible so he should be. But Day does what he does in a logical manner. I wouldn't want to take this guy on.

Finn is a man of both religious and political conviction and it comes through in his writing. Marco, though a New York native, ends up in San Francisco. He is less than impressed with some of the antics of his neighbors. It's obvious that his beliefs belong not just to him but to Finn as well. I was okay with it because I share most of the same beliefs but if you find yourself on the more liberal and/or non-Christian end of the spectrum you may find some of the book to be a bit grating. Rest assured it's no worse than what us rightists feel when we're reading works by Scalzi, but  you guys aren't as used to it. Buck up though. The story is worth it.

I do have one gripe: One of the side characters, whose name I have refused to remember, is stumb as a dump yet she manages to kill vampires. She is, in terms of intelligence at least, the antithesis of the rest of the team. She should be dead but she's not. I don't get this character. She shouldn't be here. She's a bit too obvious. I'm kind of hoping that she's a mole somehow. She's a little too out there stupid. It makes sense if she is playing stupid as a form of camouflage but that's the only way it makes sense. She shouldn't be able to work her way through a brawl without screwing up. It threw me a few times. This chick is just terrible. Then again, it's not a world ending error and I really did like the rest of the book.

Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 Test Tubes Full of Holy Water

Murphy's Law of Vampires
Declan Finn
Self-published, 2016

Murphy's Law of Vampires is available at the link below:

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