Civil Blood - Chris Hepler

"Civil Blood" is a self-published genre-crossing novel: part vampire, part courtroom drama, part science fiction.


"Civil Blood" starts in familiar territory for videogamers: The Umbrella Corporation A big Pharma company accidentally releases a vampire virus on America and tries to cover it up by using squads of Forced Protection subcontractors to round up and imprison quarantine the infected.


We leave the familiar behind partly by having a virus that is powered by a new technology that harnesses Qi, the lifeforce in biological entities and partly by having an infected lawyer turn whistle-blower and demand his day in court to get redress from whoever created the virus.


The book is told from the point of view of two strong characters. There's a first-person account from a screwed-up but kickass former enforcer for the evil corporation who has gone rogue after she was infected while rounding up targets, and a third-person account, focused on a senior enforcer inside the corporation who has a complex corporate history and some extraordinary talents. 


The story read more like science fiction than a traditional vampire or zombie apocalypse tale. There was a strong focus on the science, the politicals and the legal niceties.


I felt the legal parts were the weakest. The idea was intriguing: can the infected be declared non-human and have their rights taken away because they are dead and in the grip of a virus that compels them to fatal violence. Unfortunately, the lawyer character wasn't charismatic enough and the courtroom scenes felt flat and went on too long.


There were some great action scenes and some novel ideas but character development beyond the two primary characters was a little lacking.


It was a fun read but I felt the pace was uneven and there were too many changes in points of view to maintain high levels of engagement and tension.
I'll be looking out for Chris Hepler's next book. I think he's a writer who hasn't quite hit his stride yet but will be compelling when he does.
I read "Civil Blood" for the Deadlands square in Halloween Bingo.