Captain Jonas Hollister watched blood-drinkers slaughter his men and wound up with a ten year sentence to Leavenworth. When a senator's son witnesses similar killings, detective Allan Pinkerton springs Hollister and sends him after the creatures that slaughtered his men. But can Hollister trust the men the senator has sent to watch his back? And what about the mysterious woman following him?
Blood Riders was a fun read, no two ways about it. You've got stalwart natural leader Jonas Hollister, his mysterious multi-racial all-knowing kung fu sergeant Chee and his dog Dog, the lovely and mysterious Shaniah, and tons and tons of vampires in the old west. Historical personages, both real and fictitious, such as Oliver Winchester, Allan Pinkerton, and Abraham Van Helsing are also characters. Actually, the vampires are actually Archaics, a species similar to but not the same as vampires. The line isn't clearly drawn, something Hollister himself remarks upon.
The story is pretty straightforward. Hollister gets out of Leavenworth in exchange for doing some vampire hunting. Carnage and witty one-liners ensue. Hollister and Chee kill vampires by the wagonload using a variety of steampunk gadgets like the Ass-Kicker and the Fire Shooter, a high powered shotgun and a flamethrower, respectively. It reminded me of the first volume of American Vampire at the beginning. Later, it felt more like an enjoyable version of that Wild Wild West movie, minus the giant mechanical spider.
I liked that Spradlin used the Archaics instead of vampires so he was free to deviate from established vampire fiction as much as he pleased. He also hinted at werewolves and witches, giving further credence to my idea that this would be the first book in the series, something confirmed at the end.
While it was a lot of fun, I couldn't justify giving it higher than a three. For one thing, I found all the supposed twists fairly obvious, from Shaniah's hidden background to what transpired between her and Hollister. For another, I at no point felt like Hollister and Chee were in any real danger of failing in their mission despite being surrounded on several occasions.
That being said, I still enjoyed it and I'll give the next book in the series a shot. Three stars, mostly for the fun factor.