Review: Bloodlines (The Guardian of Empire City #1) by Peter Hartog

MY ⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5

Format: Kindle Whispersync


Welcome to Empire City, where magic and technology co-exist, and humanity endures behind walls of stone and spell-forged steel. A place where danger lurks around every street corner, and anything is possible.
When former hotshot homicide detective Tom “Doc” Holliday is recruited to join Special Crimes, he trades in his boring desk job for a second chance to do what he does best: hunt down killers.
And his first case doesn’t disappoint-a murdered woman with a bogus past, her body drained of blood, and two eyewitnesses wasted on the designer drug goldjoy claiming a vampire did it. Armed with a fickle clairvoyance and saddled with a team whose past is as checkered as his own, Holliday embarks upon an investigation through a dystopian landscape filled with bio-engineered vampires, interdimensional shadow parasites, and the magical masterminds behind it all.
But to solve this murder and safeguard his city, Holliday will have to uncover the truth behind an ancient shadowy conspiracy and confront a destiny he never wanted.


I had planned reading this in 2022 but I wasn’t able to get to it, so I made it a mission to read it in 2023. Mission accomplished! I’ve heard a few people say that this has a lot of parallels to The Dresden Files, since I actually haven’t read those yet, I can’t make that comparison. But what I can say is that this reminds me of films such as: RIPD, Constantine, Blade Runner 2049, and even a little of Men in Black. These are a bit different from each other because Bloodlines is an amalgamation of genres perfectly blended together. It’s a first person, neo-noir detective story in an urban fantasy setting with futuristic elements, and traces of sci-fi and fantasy with magic, enhanced humans, aliens, vampires… and even a little bit of Shakespeare dropped. You may be saying that it seems like a lot, but it doesn’t feel convoluted whatsoever!

Bloodlines is a suspenseful ride that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where nuclear war has left humanity in multiple enclaves. Empire City, where the story takes place, is a cyberpunk version of New York City, and just like NYC in all those noir type detective films, it has that grimy feel to it, while Hartog injects a bit hypnotic flavoring to it with his exquisite world-building. The story is filled with misdirection, once I thought I had it figured out, I was scratching my head at how I was lead astray. There are some truly tense moments that got my heart pounding and all excited to find out what will happen next as Doc and co tried to solve the crime.

“The bookstore was my sanctuary, a home away from home where I could flee into my imagination and forget life’s travails for a while.”

I found all of the characters to be very good and loveable, their development throughout the book was phenomenal as we are finding out about their history and watch how it motivates their actions. A character I instantly fell in love with, was Deacon. This is in part due to Todd Menesses narration making him sound a bit like Josh Brolin’s Jonah Hex and Jeff Bridges’ character from RIPD which because Deacon is an old confederate, it gave the him an even more old west, gunslinger vibe. The main character, Doc was very fun and fascinating and just kept getting more likeable as the story kept unfolding. His heavy NY accent and the constant “cwa-fee” pronunciation of coffee made me giggle. I also liked Besim and her mysteriousness that unfolds a little at a time.

It’s hard to believe that this is the debut novel for Mr. Hartog. If you didn’t know it ahead of time, you never would’ve guessed it going in. The story and the characters are so well written, and the misdirects that he works in flows so smoothly with the story that you never actually see them coming as misdirects or actual information being dropped. I’ll be looking very forward to book 2, Pieces of Eight, once the audio comes out an I can whispersync it. Gotta have that narration with it!

🎶 Talkin bout these Bloodlines 🎶 🕺🏻

1 Comment

  1. While I don’t like Butcher’s Dresden series, I do think you should make an effort to read a big chunk of it so you have a decent urban fantasy foundation…


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