Title: Black Market Blood (New Canadiana: Book Two)
Author: Francis Gideon
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 330 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: With intricate world-building and a suspenseful plot, this proved to be an exciting addition to the series.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: In a world where monsters are known to—and despised by—humanity, vampire Chaz Solomon hides in plain sight as a detective on the Toronto police force. But freedom from prejudice does nothing to alleviate his guilt over the lover he betrayed to gain his label of “normal.” He spends his days living a lie and his nights in a brothel, seeking company and black-market blood.
When a serial killer preying on both vampires and sex workers leads Chaz and his department on a twisted chase through New Canadiana’s supernatural underground, one of the brothel employees, Sully, becomes the only person Chaz can trust. There’s much more to Sully than a pretty face, and he’s slowly breaching the walls around Chaz’s heart with his intelligence and kind nature.
But as the body count rises and conspiracies come to light, the past Chaz has been trying to escape comes rushing back. Sully might accept Chaz as a vampire, but will he forgive Chaz’s other deceptions? And what will become of Chaz’s life if his secret is revealed? Before he can worry about a future with Sully, he’ll have to find the vengeful murderer threatening everything he cares about.
Review: If you have read Never Lose Your Flames, book one in this series, there are several characters who are brought back in and mentioned in Black Market Blood, and I am glad I read the first book, since it helped me to have an overall better understanding of events mentioned. However, I don’t think it’s necessary to read the first story to enjoy this one all on its own. There seemed to be enough background to give the reader a pretty good idea of what happened and the relevant plot points involved in Black Market Blood.
The characters are flawed and have such depth. I love when I have a well-crafted character with plenty of imperfections, and I got it in spades with Chaz (aka Chip). I’m going to be real—Chaz is a hot mess. His past decisions haunt him, and he is constantly trying to atone for his behavior. He hides his true nature from those he is around on the police force because in this world, being a “monster” (as they are known in society) means you have very little in the way of rights. As a vampire he still has needs, so he has had to find discreet places and meet those needs in brothels. Overall, he is a very lonely guy living a dual life. In Sully he finds someone, for the first time in a long time, who seems to get him, and he opens up, allowing someone to see all of him.
Sully is such an interesting character; intelligent and self-aware, he is compassionate, and though it is surprising, he enjoys and values his job as well as those he lives and works with. As a sex-worker, he is used to physical intimacy and all it entails, but emotional connection and intimacy is where he draws the line. With Chaz, Sully’s walls fall, and he allows himself to feel emotional intimacy.
The beginning of their relationship was stilted since it was more of a transaction situation, but they still seem to have a connection, and as the case starts to get more involved Chaz reaches out to Sully for help. I enjoyed the awkwardness of their first few meetings, personally. Chaz is an awkward character, socially speaking, so it stands to reason he wouldn’t have any clue how to interact with someone like Sully.
I went in thinking this was about a serial killer and a mystery to track down the bad guy. It soon became clear that was only the doorway to a much more complex situation. A lot of the focus in this particular book is on the inequality of how “monsters” are treated. Though the mystery revolves around a serial killer, as the case gets deeper and deeper and the police department starts hitting certain legal walls, it becomes clear the social issues run deep, prejudices run rampant. Since the current laws don’t protect the supernaturals, Chaz’s eyes open more and more to a bigger picture he hadn’t realized in his struggle to distance himself from his vampire nature and maintain the normal facade. His guilt about his past decisions start to weigh on him even more, and his desire to see this case through to the end, to find justice, drive him to make choices outside of the legal red-tape around him.
As far as the serial killer aspect goes, I figured out who the baddie was long before it was figured out by Chaz, but I still delighted in the process of investigation and how the clues fit, which helped form the bigger picture and led to certain events. I’ll admit to being a little let down when it all came together, because I don’t feel I got a clear picture of the motivation directly from the killer. Some motivations are thrown out there by the police as they are putting the clues together, but the true motive doesn’t really come to fruition. I had been waiting for the climactic moment where the baddie monologues their reasons for their horrific behavior. I mean, it is somewhat expected to tie it all together, oftentimes, in stories. But in this case, I don’t feel it was really explored, making it almost anti-climactic for me. However, I suppose that is realistic in a way. Not every villain word vomits out their evil plot and reasons for their decisions when they are caught. Sometimes their true motivations and feelings are never expressed. It also seemed the serial killer plot was just more of a doorway to the more complicated story arc, anyways.
There is a lot going on during this fairly long book, keeping a good pace, making the time pass by quickly without dragging too often. There is plenty of angst and tension with the characters, an elaborate plot involving the supernatural community, and a serial killer out there to find.
I recommend this book (and series) to those readers who like a decent mystery with a supernatural twist, intricate world-building, flawed and fantastic characters, and a suspenseful plot.
You can buy Black Market Blood here: