One Death at a Time (Twelve Stakes #1) by Thomas M Hewlett

One Death at a Time (Twelve Stakes #1) - Thomas M. Hewlett
Jack was a cop in life – a dirty cop up to his eyes in corruption and booze. Until he became a vampire and started to fight a new addiction.
He’s back in LA, his hometown, no working as a detective and a damn good one with his enhanced sense of smell. But even that almost fails him when trying to find the killer of a popular Councilman and a prostitute.
Driven by a promise from the poor girl’s parents, Jack investigates – and uncovers a drug plot full of betrayal, death, fae and werewolves… and an ancient order of vampires who are interested in him
This books is a supernatural detective story set in LA and it’s positively dripping in Film Noir feel. Film Noir – the hard boiled detective, the glorious monologues, the gritty, dark city – is usually something I adore completely or hate beyond reason. It all depends on whether the author can pull it off

And I didn’t hate this one.
It works. It really works. It works even more with the vampire – world weary detective who has seen it all, been there and has very little to hope for while drinking too much and trying to conceal the last shred of hope within his cynical, harsh mask? It’s done perfectly with extra impact of this detective being a vampire who has seen it all for decades – and not always been on the side of right and good. His cynicism is mixed with a lot of guilt and a lot of regret all delivered in those excellent Film Noir monologues which should be long winded but manage not to be.

Or maybe I just have a sneaking love of Film Noir.
The character doesn’t just fit the setting, but Jack is an excellent character all round. He has history, he has depth, he has development, he has weaknesses and problems all of which are written into the story. He has strength but isn’t massively overpowered and plays a difficult game often with forces that are greater than him – but he’s still a vampire and has the power that comes with that.
The book also looks unflinchingly at a lot of things – like police and government corruption – and notes that the victims of that corruption are so often POC; there’s a few references to how racial dynamic shapes the city and interactions. As well as some excellent, sharp, lampooning of faux liberals and gesture politics. We have an entire family of Latino fae (they’re also involved in crime – but so is everyone in this. It’s Film Noir, Gritty with capital GRIT) in high office which is very unusual. The ME who is more than what she seems and definitely smart enough to put together the clues and discover the supernatural bodies on her slab is a Black woman.
Unfortunately, while there are some excellent female characters who are strong, smart, savvy and up to their necks in the action (and just a little corrupt – did I mention Gritty Film Noir?) there’s also that old thread of female victimhood that permeates the book. I don’t think anyone who resembles a major female character has a good ending in this book. There are also no LGBT people, but there are some anti-gay slurs; I’ve said it before – if you’re going to erase GBLT people at least have the decency to remove the homophobia as well.


This book has a very complex take on addiction. Parts of which are very well done and parts of which are deeply problematic.