Posted on May 11, 2009 by Matt-M-McElroy
Vampire Zero is the third volume in David Wellington’s vampire hunting series featuring Laura Caxton. I was hooked from 13 Bullets, enjoyed 99 Coffins on and couldn’t wait to get this book started.
Laura Caxton and her partner (one of the survivors from the battle of Gettysburg) are on the hunt for the last two vampires. The previous battle had been costly, but they had somehow managed to dispose of a huge group of vampires before they wiped out the town. Several police and national guard had died during the fight, but the heroic actions of the group had saved the day (night?) and managed to get Caxton a small budget to form a permanent vampire hunting division. It only had enough funding for her and her new partner, but they had access to other officers when they needed them.
This allowed Caxton to hunt those last two vampires I mentioned earlier. One of which was the elder vampire and master tactician, Malvern. The ancient vampire who had started this entire mess way back in 13 Bullets by tricking some humans into serving her and helping create some new vampires. She was cunning, cruel and very dangerous, even if she barely had the strength to move around on her own. The other vampire was Caxton’s old mentor, Jameson Arkley. The world’s greatest vampire hunter was now an undead killing machine that knew every dirty trick in the book.
When I read 99 Coffins and realized when Arkley had done to help out during the Battle of Gettysburg I was not exactly surprised (he had made a few hints early in the book what his crazy plan might be), but I was wondering just how it would turn out. Of course, I expected something to go wrong by the end of the book…Caxton just can’t have a good day during a vampire hunt. She is one of my favorite characters because of her troubles, she is not a super hero or secret agent, she is a small town cop in over her head and making it up as she goes along. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
A new twist in the story is when Caxton gets “promoted” to the U.S. Marshal service. This gets her access to federal agencies (crime labs, etc) and an annoying new boss. The Marshals are as much concerned with the bad image one of their own might give them (Arkley was a Marshal) as they are with catching vampires. Caxton gets a lot of heat early on in the book and not as much help as she wants.
Arkley proves to be a difficult vampire to hunt in this book. He knows all the tricks and can usually predict just what methods of hunting Caxton is going to us against him (he did train her after all). As his connection to his humanity fades and the monstrous nature of the vampire takes over the body count rises and things look pretty bleak for Caxton. Arkely is probably the most dangerous vampire she has faced off against in this series.
Overall, Vampire Zero has as much action as the previous two books, although the body count is slightly less than 99 Coffins, there is plenty of great writing to keep the energetic pace moving along. There are a couple of clever twists and Wellington managed to surprise me twice toward the end of the book. The massive cliffhanger at the end of the book will make you want to run out and get your hands on 23 Hours just to see what happens next.
So, if you enjoyed 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins, you’ll love this book. I don’t recommend starting out with this volume, go back and read the first two, you won’t regret it. The entire series is a action-packed, bloody mess and an absolute must-read for any horror fan.
Review by Matt M McElroy