ISBN: 978-0-9807770-8-6 (print)
ISBN: 978-0-9874000-8-6 (ebook)
Michael Devlin is the first of a new breed. The way things are going, he may also be the last.
So goes the tagline for Path of Night by Dirk Flinthart. This is Flinthart’s first novel, but his extensive experience in shorter fiction means it doesn’t read that way. It’s a new, dark and scientific take on the vampire mythos, which Flinthart reinvents in an extremely Australian way. Fundamentally, everything set up in this novel has been done before in various ways, but Flinthart makes it his own. Set in Sydney and drenched in Australian humour, this is an interesting read.
We follow two main threads – medical student Michael Devlin, infected with a strange disease which vampirises him, and Jen, a tough cop who’s investigating a murder Devlin inadvertently got tied up in. His disease and the killing are connected, his flatmates are murdered and Devlin becomes a reluctant hero with superpowers on the run while Jen relies on tough, dogged police work to try to track him down.
Path of Night is excellently written and very well paced. Flinthart’s humour is ever-present but rarely gets too much. It’s occasionally distracting, but not often. I would have preferred the secrets and world-building to have been delivered a bit more slowly through the book to increase the mystery and tension a little, but that’s a small gripe.
The police procedural side of this book is excellent and feels thoroughly authentic. The vampiric and monstrous aspects are woven in well using scientific ideas rather than purely supernatural ones which does a good job of making an old subject matter fresh and interesting, particularly combined with Flinthart’s style and the Australian setting. It’s always good to see non-US settings for novels and Australian writers are really turning up the goods lately.
This is apparently the first in a series of Michael Devlin novels, but it didn’t feel like it. It’s a great standalone book and I’ll be interested to see what Flinthart does with this character next.