Review: The Fixer: A Lawson Vampire novel by Jon F. Merz

Book info:
Form: e-book, Kindle format
Genre: fantasy, vampire detective story
Target audience: adults

I borrowed a digital version of this book from my friend – thank you very much, pchlaszachrajka! 

When a bad, big, psychotic vampire called Cosgrove returns to Chicago, one thing is sure: there will be blood and murders galore. Cosgrove doesn’t disappoint his faithful allies and enemies – soon enough the Council, a body supervising all vampires living in that area, condemn him to death. Any death but the sooner the better. Lawson, one of vampire Fixers (so kind of law enforcers)  and his Control (so kind of boss) McKinley are given the order to find Cosgrove and drive something made of wood straight through his dark, scheming heart. The balance must be preserved and there is no balance with such psychos as Cosgrove.
Unfortunately killing him is easier said than done. Firstly, nobody knows what Cosgrove looks like now. Then our baddie has an interesting plan of his own and plenty of other vampires are cooperating with him secretly. When Lawson’s best friend is murdered in a club there’s no looking back, though, especially when a female assassin Lawson falls in love with, Talya, joins the hunt and is kidnapped as a result. Will vampires manage to clean their ranks? How many lives will it cost? Will humans finally find out the truth about vampires?
What I liked:
This novel was highly readable, I really was sucked inside the plot and the more I read the more I wanted to know about our sad vampire protagonist.Lawson was an interesting character mainly because he was so flawed –  an experienced law enforcer who is hardly fearless and has a very unpleasant fund of memories- anyway that’s what made this story work for me. The world Lawson lives in is dangerous but he didn’t choose his life, it chose him, and, while he would have chosen differently, he doesn’t waste a lot of time pining over it either. Well, being so very flawed and in love he whines a bit but not too much.
Talking about the love interest of the main lead I must mention Talya, a big asset of this book. She is an Asian girl – half Chinese, half Kazakh – which I found original. She used to work as a KGB secret agent and now she is a freelancer assassin, also something you hardly expect from a ‘damsel in distress’, usually met in such books. She has a brain of her own and she knows what she wants – another feature I appreciate in my heroines.
 Apart from that Merz did, in my opinion, a wonderful job of setting the fighting scenes. They seemed real and gory but not overly so. I also enjoyed several mentions of Musashi  Miyamoto, a Japanese swordsman and rōnin and bushido, the code of samurai. I like Japanese culture very much and it was like a ‘hello’ from a distant friend.

Finally let me tell you that I appreciated the idea that the vampires in this series aren’t some weird type of supernatural creatures but just another species that evolved alongside of humans. That alone opens up many more doors which, I hope, will be explored in next parts.

What I didn’t like:
This novel was published for the first time in 2002. That’s exactly ten years ago. It makes itself felt. In other words if you look for a terribly original premise, keep looking because you are bound to be disappointed by this one.
My other complain is that this book could really do with some more extensive editing. I’m not a native English speaker and still I noticed some strange mistakes: e.g. a faulty sentence structure like “I knew your reaction would be worth coming out in this miserable rain for” or an occasional redundancy of word choice, like ” Her hips ground in to my face as she rode my face…” (and it was supposed to be one hot scene, imagine that!) A rookie writer mistakes, more often found in low-quality fanfic nowadays than in officially published books (although there are exceptions to this rule).
Now my main complaint. I really couldn’t swallow that Lawson, a centenarian and a vampire with a several decades spent as a black Ops veteran, was from time to time so incredibly sloppy with his detective work. First he readily told his love interest, a human woman after all, that their mutual quarry is a vampire when the mere existence of vampires was supposed to be the biggest secret. He often took really poor operative decisions, allowing the main baddie to escape with ease and flourish. Ok, he was in love, but honestly, you should have expected a better control from such a professional. Also on several occasions Lawson describes himself as reacting “like a fourteen year old boy” to Talya. Well, doesn’t it sound silly? His background and training is given as lengthy, Marine/special forces tough, dangerous and pretty comprehensive but for all of his training Lawson doesn’t seem to know what to do in a tight spot and allows situations to worsen through his own failure to deliver.
Final verdict:
 The world building was interesting but not especially original. The characters were complex but not very captivating. Still I want to give this series one more chance. Idealistic, I know…
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