The Invoker by Jon F. Merz

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On a rainy autumn night in Boston, Lawson is sent to terminate a man whom he believes is a drug dealer. It is just another day in the life of a Fixer – a guardian of the secret vampire society that lives within our own, and has its own rules and Council. As the man lies dying, Lawson realizes that there is something wrong with the entire situation, and the man – who pleads with Lawson to protect his son – is not at all what he thought. Lawson soon finds himself caught up in a tangle that leads him on an around the world chase and tied to a 10-year-old boy with a remarkable talent.

This is the second book of Jon F. Merz’s Lawson series, and if you are looking for vampires that sparkle, chase after waitresses or mope about in old castles, this isn’t the book to read. (Though admittedly, there is a lot of sex appeal going on, even though in this particular story there is no romantic interest.) As with the first book, there is little time spent developing the world. We are thrown right into the action from the first opening scene; however, Merz has done his homework, and has built a fully formed and airtight world that pulls you in from the start. We get enough explanation to know what is going on, but not enough that you lose the flow of what is happening. Actions first, explanations later – precisely what you would expect from someone like Lawson, a vampire who is part police officer, partly hitman and all-action hero. Merz has taken an otherwise questionable character and made him complex, sympathetic, and dare I say it – human. Lawson has to take time to recover from injuries (granted not as long as a human would, but still) has weaknesses, gets confused, and has moral dilemmas. We can relate to him. 

The pacing is excellent in this novel – we are kept running right along with Lawson and his charge. There is, of course, the question of what a vampire action hero does with a 10-year-old boy in tow, so there are the curious choices of babysitters. Just at the point where I was starting to think, “How stupid are the bad guys they aren’t noticing the kid is with the sitter instead” Merz throws in a twist that sends the story off in a different direction. The writing is excellent, and there are threads from the first book that carry over through the series. There is enough romantic interest thrown in to make Lawson complex, not enough to interfere with the storyline, and even the “darlings,” characters that seem untouchable are not invincible or immune to being killed. The only observation I have, out of the four Lawson novels I have read so far, the bad guy is always part of or connected to the Council.  The offending Council Member(s) are predictably pissed off at Lawson because he notices that they are, well, evil. While these books are more thriller/suspense than mystery, it makes one wonder if the five or six people on the Council were so rotten, why haven’t the rest of the vampires booted them out by now? Even bad presidents are voted out eventually. Strangely, these Council members have been in place for several hundred years and no one has noticed them being evil until now. 

My review this time – 4 out of 5 stars

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