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      Jack Swift: Cool Blood Walk.       

Price: £7.99 Pages230 ISBN: 9781909086203

Red Rattle Books

         

Cool Blood Walk is a real treat.  The book will be irresistible to vampire fans and should also appeal to readers with no special affection for the genre.   A good vampire story should not be dependent on the existence of fantasy to succeed.  The plot and characters should be able to function without the supernatural powers of the bloodsuckers.  Cool Blood Walk has that strength.  It mixes romance, suspense and a threat that is enhanced rather than defined by the presence of the vampires. 

Jack Swift is the latest author to be recruited by Red Rattle Books. Cool Blood Walk is his second novel and it is a change of direction after the impressive Undead Underneath.  That breathless story was set in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.  Characters were involved in various confrontations with the zombies.  Survival was important, and there was little time for romantic attachments.  Instead a group of unlikely people became a band of warriors and somehow prevailed.

As he did with Undead Underneath, Jack Swift has challenged the conventions of the bloodsucking tradition.  Cool Blood Walk is a marvellous slow burn and very different vampire tale.  For once we have a romantic and poignant tale without the predictable teenagers losing their hearts.   Dot is a middle-aged black woman living in the English countryside.  After her divorce life as the head of a single parent family is a struggle.  She has three jobs and a withdrawn but talented daughter who is recovering from a sexual attack.  Dot is flattered by the attention from the young man Chris.  He makes her feel significant, something other than a dot.  Chris is young, handsome and he has money.  Both Dot and the young man, though, have dangerous and incompatible secrets that neither want to reveal.  The future becomes complicated.

Throughout the book the telling is restrained but Swift still manages to fit in some interesting and inexplicable confrontations that utilise the supernatural element.  The poignant and ambiguous ending of the book will leave readers much to ponder.  In Cool Blood Walk fulfilment and disappointment appear to be two sides of the same coin.  Rather than heroes and villains or the innocent and the evil, Cool Blood Walk is shaped by the tentative steps of ordinary people into a strange and difficult world.

In Undead Underneath the zombies were able to travel underground at speed.  Jack Swift creates unusual vampires for Cool Blood Walk.  They are creatures obliged to manage a complicated affliction.  The disease affects each of them differently.  This allows Swift to put his vampires into unusual situations and to give them unusual roles.  Like humans, his vampires are a mix of the practical and creative.  The opening chapter of Cool Blood Walk is gruesome and not typical of the rest of the book.  Later we think about the scene and relate it to a morality that dominates the book, the need for mutual respect and the need to minimise the damage we cause others.  Although there is at least one very good joke at the expense of white people, Swift resists reminding the reader of the ethnicity of his heroine.  Dot and her family are ordinary and vulnerable people and it is this we realise that makes them recognisable and important.   

By Irene Keith.