There’s something to be said for a novel that’s fun, easy to read, and has a great ratio of hot sex and absurd plot. It’s like candy for your brain, and I devoured Walker’s latest in the Cronin’s Key trilogy like a kid with a chocolate bar. Don’t go looking here for high literature and deep, meaningful conversations about life; this is a book where vampires battle Genghis Khan and an army of terracotta soldiers in modern day New York City (and still find time in the bedroom, of course).
Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it’s delightful. If you can suspend disbelief, you’ll find almost 200 pages of crazy action, vague prophecies, hot vampire sex, and twisted history, all well-written.
In Cronin’s Key, Alec MacAidan is a normal NYPD detective (read: genius, has a photographic memory, and is the youngest detective in his unit). Then he meets vampire Cronin and the attraction is instant. After a token protest, Alec succumbs to fate and accepts that he is in love with Cronin. Alec also accepts that he’s a prophesied object called The Key, whose purpose is unknown– but it’s important and means he’s destined for great things, we assume. Then they go battle mummies and gods in Egypt, there’s lots of action and Alec being brilliant (literally), and the novel ends with Cronin agreeing to turn Alec into a vampire… only to discover that Alec can’t be turned into a vampire.
Cronin’s Key II picks up eight weeks after the first book, with Alec and Cronin having all of the sex and hiding out in Cronin’s Manhattan penthouse (because Alec’s on the run from the NYPD, did we forget to mention?). When they’re not in bed, Alec finds himself bored, and convinces Cronin to take him out to a club. Cronin, whose vampire talent is the ability to teleport (“quantum leap”), pops them over to London, where they meet up with friends and hear unsettling news about vampires in southern Russia who are fleeing north from something mysterious. This leads them to a seer in South America (Jorge, a creepy vampire child), and back to New York with yet another prophecy.
Jodis turned serious. “What does it all mean?”
Cronin took a deep breath and squeezed Alec’s hand. “I think Alec’s duty as the key, whatever it is, has started again.”
Eiji shook his head at Alec. “We just can’t keep you out of trouble, can we?”
“I try,” Alec said with a shrug, “but it just keeps finding me.” (Cronin’s Key II, Kindle Location 471)
This is how the entire novel goes, one mystery revelation and prophecy after another. Characters make strange leaps of logic, and suddenly everyone is certain that Genghis Khan (who was a vampire himself, natch) has risen from the dead and is summoning an army of Terracotta Soldiers from China (also vampires) to come after Alec “The Key” MacAidan. Why there are clay soldiers from the third century BC being led by a Mongolian from thirteenth century AD, I’m not entirely sure. But who cares?
“Because he’s not the one behind this,” Alec argued. “I don’t know how I know that, I just do. He’s just a pawn in this.” (Cronin’s Key II, Kindle Location 2423)
This is not a “great” novel; no literary accolades will be won here, it’s just pure brain fluff. But it is the kind of book that you can’t put down, the same way you can’t put down a bowl of your favorite dessert with all the toppings; you know it’s not healthy, but you just don’t care because it’s so damn good!