“Bloodlines” by Peter Hartog: An SPSFC Review

I’m a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC), and I’m reading and reviewing a bunch of books besides the semi-finalists and finalists! Check out my SPSFC 2021 Hub for all my posts and reviews for the contest.

Bloodlines by Peter Hartog

I saw copies of Bloodlines on multiple bookshelves in booktube-type videos or pictures of favorite books on a shelf and felt a distinct sense of FOMO. While the book wasn’t in my group’s reading, I threw it on my list of books to read because I wanted to be sure I got around to it. I’m glad I did. Bloodlines merges genres deftly, borrowing inspirations from Blade Runner and Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” while carving out its own space in a somewhat crowded cyberpunk field.

Bloodlines follows Tom “Doc” Holliday (love the Wild West reference) as he gets a chance to be part of a secret detective unit dealing with crimes that appear to be impossible based on mundane reality. It quickly appears the first murder he needs to solve may have been from a vampire. But these vampires and the setting of the book push the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy, meshing them together in some surprising ways.

There are a good number of characters here, and the chase to find a mysterious killer gets more exciting as the novel goes on. While there possibly are a few twists and turns too many–the novel could have used a bit of thinning down–the story remains satisfying and has enough action to sustain the reader throughout. Characters are interesting, and while many only get a surface-level outline, others grow and develop throughout the story.

I realized at one point deep into the novel that I genuinely had little idea of “Whodunit.” It wasn’t that the novel wasn’t well written enough to give hints; instead, it’s well written enough to conceal the big reveals quite well–basically until Hartog is ready for the reader to know. It makes the mystery that much more satisfying and certainly delivers a solid ending.

The setting is done well, with a kind of inter-dimensionality setting up the possibility of seemingly magical creatures showing up in our own reality. This leads to, among other things, the possibility for near-humans from alternate timelines and realities to show up–one of whom ends up as a kind of partner for Holliday. I quite enjoyed the worldbuilding, even though it is admittedly a bit hand-wavey about some of the details. You aren’t reading this book for comprehensive scientific accuracy, though, you’re reading it for fun; and Hartog provides fun in droves.

Bloodlines is a great read that fans of the inspirations and subgenres it emulates should go run and grab as soon as possible. I found it to be a fun read, and I’ll definitely be grabbing the next book in the series. Recommended.

All links to Amazon are Affiliates

Links

The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.