Published May 1995.
Alisa and her partner, Joel, are vampires. But Joel is also an FBI agent, and someone inside the government has discovered their secret. The government wants their blood, to study it, to duplicate it. They send a massive manhunt after Alisa and Joel. But using skills and abilities developed over five thousand years, Alisa manages to elude the hunt. Unfortunately Joel is caught, and taken to a top-secret base in the Nevada desert. Now it is Alisa’s task to free him before the scientists break the DNA code of their blood, and transform the whole world into vampires. (book back blurb)
The body count had to have hit at least 20 within the first chapter. That’s always a set-up for a win if I’ve ever read one. Pike doesn’t pull any punches. If people need to die, then they’re going to die. And do they die.
Alisa is still Alisa: a five thousand year old vampire just trying to survive and stay in her god’s good graces while she’s at it. The thing is, all of these human interactions are starting to wear on her and it shows. First Ray and then Joel. It’s no surprise that as the series went on, Alisa has become less like a vampire and more like a human, grievous mistakes and all. Her barrier is breaking down. She’s getting sloppy and it’s getting people killed. And I love it. Well, not the people-killing thing but Alisa’s vulnerabilities. It still reads like this slightly stilted, breath of old air type of vibe but her actions are breaking down. The words are becoming just a facade as the vampire dies and she leaves the grace she found protection under for so long.
I like the whole scientific/spiritual aspect of the story, how it started back in history and looped around to the present. I think it makes total sense that should a vampire get captured, the government would want to experiment on it. Imagine the cures! The undead armies! Kind of scary, though, don’t you think? Alisa thought so.
Again, Pike doesn’t spare anyone’s feelings by the end of the book. Alisa was born to suffer, and suffer she will. But you care about her. She’s not a floofy, sappy type of vampire. Yes, she feels love and compassion but when a job has to get done, she makes sure it gets done. Alisa is equal parts selfish and altruistic. She sure as hell doesn’t want to die but if it means it’ll save the greater good, she will. But she’ll do everything she can to make sure that she doesn’t have to make that kind of sacrifice before actually having to do it.
RED DICE is a great addition to THE LAST VAMPIRE series. I know there are three more books left that I must get my hands on. I need to see where the story goes, especially after the ending in this one. What a cliffhanger! Kind of cruel, really, since I don’t have the next in the series to sate my interest. But I’ll get it eventually. You can count on it! If you haven’t started THE LAST VAMPIRE series yet, I’d highly recommend you do. There’s a reason why it was re-released now. It’s just that level of awesome.