A.J. Harrison’s Old Scores is an action-packed thriller utilizing elements of vampire fiction, paranormal fantasy, and horror in a story about a Chicago-based bloodsucker who becomes caught between a brutal conflict between two ancient vampires.
Simon Melas is a vampire living in Chicago who is strangely attracted to Anita Rothard, a university student whom he fatefully met. Simon knows it’s dangerous to get emotionally connected to his food, but there’s something about this quirky woman, and they slowly begin to build a relationship. Meanwhile, Simon’s former mentor, a vampire named Salem, arrives in Chicago looking for help. Salem is attempting to kill an ancient monstrosity who calls himself King of the Vampires and who is on a mission to annihilate every one of his potential enemies. Bloody chaos soon ensues.
There’s much to like here: nonstop action, excellent character development and world-building, and rich description that brings the dark atmospherics to life, as in this excerpt where the author describes a vampiric character: “His brows were hairless and cracked. Other spots had strange deformities, [sic] bone spurs beneath the surface jutting out like small spikes of flesh. Protruding varicose veins slithered up his neck and over his bald head like worms beneath the scalp.”
The only criticism is that Harrison doesn’t bring anything particularly new or innovative to the vampire mythos. These are stock bloodsuckers with no fresh modifications, unlike many other critically acclaimed novels where the respective authors flexed their creative muscles to give readers something unique (e.g. Charlie Huston’s Already Dead, Maria Dahvana Headley’s Queen of Kings, Andre Fox’s Fat White Vampire Blues, etc.) Additionally, the conclusion is a bit predictable.
Still, the blood-soaked narrative—the first installment in what could easily be a much longer storyline— offers more than enough rewards to satisfy fans of vampire fiction.
Also available as an ebook.