Dark Road Rising
The first new Vampire Files novel in four years!
Vampire P.I. Jack Fleming is playing babysitter to Gabriel “Whitey” Kroun, a dangerously unstable mobster—and newly-created vampire—with deadly secrets to hide.
As Jack tries to unravel the mystery surrounding Kroun’s undead state, he gets caught between his charge’s violent outbursts and some syndicate torpedoes looking to rub them both out, leaving him vulnerable to an even deadlier threat— the return of an old enemy desperate to unlock the secrets of Jack’s vampire immortality.
P.N. Elrod Interviews P.I. Jack Fleming
Author Pat Elrod tracked down vampire P.I. Jack Fleming from "The Vampire Files" at his night club, Lady Crymsyn, which is one of Chicago's newest hot spots (or at least it was in 1938.) Through the magic of time travel, she found herself in Mr. Fleming's favorite booth just before opening time.
Elrod: So, Jack, how long have you been a vampire?
Fleming: Hey, I was a perfectly normal human being for 36 years before I was bumped off, what about that?
Elrod: Uh, okay, so tell us about your human life.
Fleming: It was pretty much the same as what I've got now, just a different kind of drinking was involved.
Elrod: Yes, you mentioned in Cold Streets that you liked a tipple now and then.
Fleming: Don't sugarcoat it, Doll face, I was a drunk newsman. I was really good at both jobs, too.
Elrod: Doll face...!
Fleming: Don't get on your high horse, it's a compliment. I'm a man of my times.
Elrod: Clearly. Now about your life as a vampire...?
Fleming: Versus being a regular guy? Eh, it's not so different. I stay up late, but Chicago's got a lot of all-night movie shows. I miss stuff that goes on during the day like baseball. Reading about a game in the papers just isn't the same as watching one. I miss a lot of my favorite radio shows, especially in the summer since the days are longer.
Elrod: You're not at all active during the day?
Fleming: When the sun comes up, I'm dead to the world. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Elrod: How did you get to be a vampire?
Fleming: It's a long story. I tell about some of it in Bloodlist.
Elrod: That would be your first book. You don't give the whole story there?
Fleming: I give enough of it. I was pretty busy in Bloodlist. First I wake up dead on that beach, then I can't remember how I got there or who had killed me. Then this guy hits me with his car—busy. Yanno?
Elrod: Busy. Got that.
Elrod: So—you've got a new book in "The Vampire Files" series coming out this September?
Fleming: Sure do! Dark Road Rising. Your pal Rachel Caine liked it plenty.
Elrod: She did. I think she liked it better than my books. You sure you didn't hypnotize her?
Fleming: I'm taking the fifth.
Elrod: What about your romantic life?
Fleming: Hey, a gentleman doesn't talk about things like that!
Elrod: Sorry, but many of the lady readers are...curious about how you go about things.
Fleming: They'll have to ask my girlfriend. She's never complained.
Elrod: That would be Miss Bobbi Smythe, the chanteuse?
Fleming: She's more than that—she sings, dances, acts, and can swing a blackjack better than Capone.
Elrod: I thought he favored baseball bats.
Fleming: She can swing one of those, too. Better believe it that I stay on her good side! Don't get me wrong, she's the best, I'm lucky to have her. What she sees in me I don't know, but I hope she keeps seeing it.
Elrod: There is also your human partner in your PI business, Charles Escott. He's originally from England and is now a private detective—
Fleming: Private agent. Don't call him a gumshoe, it puts him in a mood. He doesn't do divorce cases is all.
Elrod: I understand he was with you on your first case?
Fleming: Yeah, Bloodlist, the one where I solved my own murder. He was there all right. We got off to a rocky start when he stole my home earth, but what the hell, it all worked out in the end.
Elrod: What does he think of working with a vampire?
Fleming: You'll have to ask him. Why don't you ask me what it's like working with a human? Is there some kind of vampire bias going on here? I have a condition. Would you ask him what it was like to work with a diabetic if I had diabetes?
Elrod: Yes. I would.
Fleming: Oh. Uh. Okay.
Elrod: So what is it like working with Charles Escott? I understand he's a bit quirky.
Fleming: Quirky is an understatement, lady. He drives me nuts. It's bad enough he uses fifty words when ten will do, but he has absolutely no fear—especially when he should. I'm always having to haul him out of trouble.
Fleming: I know, I should talk. I'll put it this way, we look out for each other, but neither of us makes it easy for the other guy. Then there's his pal, Shoe—
Elrod: That would be Shoe Coldfield who runs the largest African-American gang in what was then called Chicago's "Bronze Belt?"
Fleming: Big guy. Hates surprises. Has a right cross you don't ever wanna meet. He and Escott go way back. They used to be in a Canadian acting troupe—
Elrod: You're kidding!
Fleming: I've seen the posters. Escott's still got some of the company's theatrical gear, but don't talk to him about it. He's got bad memories from that time. I don't like to pry.
Elrod: The heck you don't! What about all that stuff in Dark Sleep?
Fleming: Okay, you got me on that, but go easy on the guy.
Elrod: I will. He's pretty hot. Lots of my friends think he's hotter than you.
Fleming: It's that English accent of his, isn't it? Isn't it?
Elrod: Yeah, it's the accent. I could listen to him read the phone book.
Fleming: Be careful what you wish for, lady. I've heard him, and it don't do a thing for me. Probably just as well.
Elrod: Um...okay. Now as for the other member of your gang—
Elrod: Gordy Weems, known as "Northside Gordy." He's got a bit of a reputation as a member of Chicago's underworld.
Fleming: Which is like saying Capone ran a little distribution business for hooch.
Elrod: You've an odd sort of friendship with Gordy, though.
Fleming: Don't make it sound like that! People will get the wrong idea! But, yeah, Gordy and I have teamed up on a case. He knows everything that goes on in Chicago, and sometimes I help him convince a mug to play nice in the sandbox. Well, I used to, anyway. Not so much these days—uh—nights.
Elrod: Oh, yeah? What do you mean?
Fleming: Nah, I'm not going into that. You'd call it a spoiler. Has to do with what you'd call my "powers."
Elrod: Tell us about those.
Fleming: Jeez, take notes, why don'tcha?
Elrod: I am.
Fleming: What is that gizmo?
Elrod: It's a digital recorder.
Fleming: I thought it was a cigarette box, only I can smell that you don't smoke.
Elrod: Sensitive sense of smell, yes, go on.
Fleming: When I bother to breathe, that is. I like that perfume by the way.
Elrod: Oh. Thank you!
Fleming: You don't have to dump in on, though.
Fleming: It's okay, I don't mind.
Elrod: Back to your powers, wise-ass.
Fleming: Jeez, you make me out like I'm some kinda super guy, but it's part of the package when I woke up undead that night on the beach. I got the night vision and good hearing. And I figured out how to hypnotize people—which isn't polite, by the way—but the best one is being able to disappear.
Elrod: You turn into a mist?
Fleming: No I just vanish. Like this—
Elrod: YOW! WHERE ARE YOU?
Fleming: Right here.
Fleming: Calm down! It's no big deal.
Elrod: It sure as hell IS!
Fleming: I guess so. I've gotten used to it. Sure tires me out, though. I get hungry.
Fleming: Yeah, and you know what THAT means.
Elrod: Is that a trick question?
Fleming: Cool your motor, honey, you're safe. I'll just stop at the Stockyards and top off my tank before I turn in for the day.
Elrod: That's a relief.
Fleming: Not for the cows, and lemme tell you it is HELL on my shoes. Usually I vanish and float in, especially when it's muddy.
Elrod: Why don't you get some galoshes?
Elrod: You pull them on. They protect your shoes.
Fleming: I KNOW what they are, ya dizzy dame.
Elrod: Well, don't bite my head off!
Fleming: You should be so lucky.
Elrod: I'd rather have Escott.
Fleming: Hey—I heard that!
Elrod: We're done here. Where's Escott?
Fleming: He heard you were coming and hid behind the bar.
Escott: I most certainly did not. Ms. Elrod, I am Charles Escott. Please pay no attention to Mr. Fleming. I am delighted to finally make your acquaintance.
Elrod: Likewise, I'm sure. Golly, you're taller in person.
Escott: And you're far more charming than I was led to believe.
Elrod: Why, thank you!
Escott: I'm sure Jack has some bartending duties to occupy himself. Why don't you and I go for a drive? It would be my very great pleasure to take you on a tour of some of the locations that have figured in "The Vampire Files".
Elrod: Oh, that would be fantastic, Mr. Escott!
Escott: Please...call me Charles.
Fleming: Oh, jeez.
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