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Literature / President's Vampire

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It's easy to keep secrets when nobody gives a damn.

President's Vampire, also known as Blood Oath after the first book, is a series of novels by Christopher Farnsworth mixing supernatural horror and spy fiction.

Zachary Barrows is a young White House bureaucrat and his party's boy wonder, hoping to achieve much in politics. However, his career comes to a screeching halt when, after getting caught spending a night with the president's daughter, he's reassigned to be, for the rest of his life, a liaison officer between the White House and... a vampire.

As it turns out, there is an entire world of supernatural creatures that, for most part, consider humans to be a tasty and healthy meal, and many people who want to use black magic against the general public. Between them and unknowing civilians stands Nathaniel Cade, a vampire bound by a blood oath to serve the President of the United States, whoever he might be. He's been doing this job for over fourteen decades and gone through dozens of partners - the latest of which is supposed to be Zach.

Almost immediately after their first meeting, the duo is sent to save the America from Muslim terrorists who want to use Frankenstein monsters to overthrow the US, the original Doctor Frankenstein and the secret semi-government agency who had its own plans, and that's only Zach's first day on the job...

So far, there are five books in the series:

  1. Blood Oath
  2. The President's Vampire
  3. The Burning Men (novella)
  4. Red, White and Blood
  5. Deep State (novella)
  6. Better Dead than Red

Tropes in this series are:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Slight inversion of this trope in that it's an abandoned hospital ship; after a well-meaning army medic sets down on the ship with a wounded soldier (who unbeknownst to him has been deliberately infected with the Snakehead virus), Cade is sent in to investigate. Cade abruptly wastes no time in killing everything aboard the ship; the Snakeheads who have already turned can't be allowed to escape back to dry land, and any surviving humans, if they haven't already been infected with the virus, will likely have been driven irrevocably mad by what they've seen.
  • Action Survivor: Zach used to be a low-level politician, so his participation in any action generally looks like this.
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Konrad is very interested in his virus' creepy and Squicky effects.
    • Wyman expresses a desire for the USA to take advantage of the Unmenschensoldaten themselves.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Helen comes of as pleasant and helpful most of the time, while in fact, she's very probably a psychopath.
    • Proctor is a pretty personable guy. He's also a fairly high ranked Shadow Company operative determined to end the world.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: For all that the bad guys claim they're not afraid of/will happily take down Cade, within about five seconds of encountering him in the flesh, most are disarmed, on the floor and desperately (and futilely) begging for their lives.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: At the climax of the first book, four Unmanschensoldaten are unleashed on the White House.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Order, a cult that dates back to least the founding of the US, and which aims at its destruction. After nearly being wiped out by President Grant and Cade in retaliation for their assassination of Lincoln, the survivors underwent a split, with one faction infiltrating the government and evolving into the Shadow Company, while the other created the Boogeyman and evolved into a Religion of Evil built around it.
  • Animals Hate Him: Dogs in particular are terrified of Cade because they recognise what he is. When a Shadow Company agent tries to sic an Alsatian on him, the dog runs past Cade and out of the room with its tail between its legs.
  • And I Must Scream: How Cade ultimately deals with the Boogeyman. Since killing its host body will just let it reincarnate in another, he breaks every bone in said body, then has the creature put on life support, with plans to keep the body too broken for it to ever fully heal, yet unable to escape.
  • Animorphism: Cade and US government believe this vampire myth to be false, but Tania can turn into a bird/bat and it's implied that all vampires that feed on human blood can do this.
  • Arch-Enemy: Since Cade's enemies tend not to live long after meeting him, Konrad (who always escapes) and the Boogeyman (who keeps coming back) deserve mention for repeat encounters. As a whole, however, the Shadow Company probably counts.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: In his heyday, Konrad was a baron and has never forgotten that fact, leading him to look down on present-day humans (particularly Americans) as naive children who've never seen or endured true hardship. It's also one of the reasons he despises Cade; Konrad believes his rank elevates him above Cade, and is angered that Cade doesn't know to respect his betters.
  • At Least I Admit It: Wyman is fully aware that pretty much everyone, from his parents to his colleagues in the Democratic Party to his ostensible allies in the Shadow Company, considers him a charmless, uncharismatic prick who they tolerate as a minor nuisance at best and despise as an overreaching idiot at worst. In his more honest moments, Wyman admits that they're right to loath him.
  • Auto Erotica: The prologue of Red, White and Blood involves two teens having this interrupted by the Boogeyman trying to kill them. Thanks to Cade and Griff, the kids escape with their lives, though minus the car, their clothes and their dignity.
  • Bad Boss: Definitely Helen Holt.
  • Benevolent Boss: President Curtis to his staff. Except Wyman. But that's to be expected.
  • Batman Cold Open: All the main books open with one:
    • Blood Oath: A special ops team witnesses Cade killing a group of werewolves and taking back an artifact from them.
    • The President's Vampire: A flashback to when Cade killed Bin Laden.
    • Red, White, and Blood: A flashback to one of Cade's previous encounters with the Boogeyman.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Both Cade and Konrad had taken part in many major events of last century, including both World Wars and the Nigerian civil war.
    • The Shadow Company has been behind numerous political assassinations, and started The War on Terror, all as part of their plans to take over America and start the end of the world.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Johann Konrad, the real-life basis for Shelley's Doctor Frankenstein, perfected his Elixir of Youth in 1693, and used it to live for centuries and continue his obscene work up until 1734, when one of his creations got loose and killed dozens of people before it was brought down, forcing Konrad to make a quick exit when an angry mob stormed his castle afterwards. Apparently Mary Shelley got the idea for the novel while on holiday near Konrad's family castle and hearing the accounts of his atrocities. Konrad is also implied to have been responsible for saving Ronald's Reagan's life after the assassination attempt on him in 1981, resulting in the U.S. Government giving him a pardon (much to Cade's fury) in exchange for certain conditions (see Deal with the Devil below).
    • Marie Laveau,the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, bound Cade to the service of the President, by order to Andrew Johnson, using the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln as part of the spell.
    • Elliot Ness was a member of the taskforce that Cade led in destroying Innsmouth.
    • Osama Bin Laden was an agent of the Shadow Company, who Cade killed in Tora Bora (his survival and later "real" death both being faked by the government for political reasons). Oh, and he was an early test subject of the Snakehead virus, so he wasn't human anymore when Cade killed him.
    • John Wilkes Booth was a patsy of the Order, who faked his own death in 1865 and went into hiding, until the guilt caught up with him decades later and he started drunkenly announcing the truth. So Cade hunted him down and killed him, though he made it quick and painless with poison because Wilkes Booth showed genuine remorse for his actions.
    • Jack the Ripper was a "starchild" created by Aleister Crowley, in the same sort of ritual that later created the Boogeyman. That ritual was performed by Francis Tumblety, an American quack who was one of the primary suspects in the Ripper case.
    • Every Serial Killer in the 20th century has either been a host of the Boogeyman, or a member of the cult worshiping it.
  • Berserk Button: Whenever Johann Konrad appears in vicinity, Cade's Red Oni, Blue Oni relationship with Zach gets instantly reversed and he's inches short from killing the man on the spot.
  • Big Bad: The Shadow Company is the main threat throughout the series, though each main book has its own main antagonists.
    • Blood Oath: Konrad
    • The President's Vampire: Colonel Graves
    • Red, White, and Blood: Helen and the Boogeyman
  • Bittersweet Ending: All three novels have this:
    • Blood Oath: The President is saved, the Unmenschensoldaten attack on the White House is thwarted and the jihadist cell behind it destroyed, but Griff is dead (along with his knowledge Vice President Wyman is the traitor in the ranks), while Konrad and Holt escape justice and remain at large.
    • The President's Vampire: The Shadow Company's plans to unleash the Snakeheads on America and trigger the Apocalypse is foiled, and the Company is dealt a severe blow with the death of its agent Graves, but Zach is forced to accept that his association with Cade will forever deny him a normal life, and his chances of a relationship go out the window when the girl he was seeing turns out to be a Shadow Company operative who, realising she's in too deep and working for a group of dangerous lunatics, sacrifices herself to both save Cade and Zach and make amends for her sins.
    • Red, White and Blood: The Boogeyman is finally defeated and imprisoned with no chance of escape, but numerous people have died, including Zach's father, Zach's hopes of salvaging a relationship with Candace end when she breaks it off, stating she can't handle the monsters he deals with every day in her life, Holt is still alive (possibly undead) and even more determined to get her revenge, and to top it all, Wyman is able to assassinate President Curtis, pass it off as a heart attack and get himself sworn in as President, leaving Zach and Cade with a man who despises them, who they suspect to be a Shadow Company associate, and is far too willing to take advantage of the Other Side, as their new boss. This one could be considered a Bad Ending.
  • Came Back Wrong: Unmenschensoldaten are built from dead soldiers brought back to life to do their creators' bidding, and they're not aware of it - when we see a POV of one, he has no idea what's going on and wonders if he's in Hell.
    • While Konrad is implied to have saved Reagan's life in 1981, it's indicated that the President never fully recovered from the short period of clinical brain death he endured and towards the end of his second term became quite zombie-like in behaviour.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Why Konrad was allowed to live, despite Cade urging the U.S. Government to kill him for his sins after World War II.
    Konrad: I told you, Cade. There will always be someone willing to pay for my services.
  • Casting a Shadow: The Shadowmen, the result of a previous Shadow Company experiment, who gained the ability to travel in shadows and use them to attack people with their fears.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the first book, Cade recovers an artifact from a group of Slavic werewolves. At the climax of the book, it turns out to be the petrified hand of John the Baptist, which Cade uses to rekill the last Unmenschensoldaten.
  • Chekhov's Skill: An offhand mention about Zach being a car thief once comes back when he has to steal a car to get himself and Cade to safety. When rigging the cables to start the vehicle, he even muses angrily that out of all skills he has ever acquired, he'd much rather it wasn't this one that proves the most useful.
  • Clean Up Crew: Cade and Zac employ one to help maintain The Masquerade.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Zac, when captured by the Shadow Company in the first book.
  • Collector of the Strange: Cade likes to keep trophies of his missions.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cade demonstrates this by shooting a pack leader of the Snakeheads in the face with a shotgun while the creature is spoiling to fight him hand-to-hand.
  • Curse: Cade considers his vampirism to be this, a curse that fates him to burn in Hell when he'll die.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Both Tania and Zach lampshade the fact that for all of Cade's sulking about being a vampire, being a nigh-immortal, nearly indestructible, super-strong and fast predator is actually pretty cool.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Deep State begins with Cade busting Konrad out of a Shadow Company facility in Dubai, since President Wyman wants to make use of his skills.
  • Cute and Psycho: Tania is a semi-heroic example, being a pretty woman and calling humans 'livestock'. Helen, on the other hand, is a villainous example, acting Affably Evil and even friendly most of the time, but inside, being pretty much empty of anything else than unconditional self-interest.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Cade, despite being a vampire, killer, and creature of the night, is one of the good guys, even though sometimes he doesn't believe it.
  • Dating Catwoman: Cade has an on/off relationship with Tania, who unlike him is a Fully-Embraced Fiend.
  • Deal with the Devil: The U.S. Government pardons Konrad in thanks for his part in saving President Reagan's life after the 1981 assassination attempt, on the condition he hands over the formula for the Elixir of Life and agrees not to create any more Unmenschensoldaten.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Ken Blayclock, one of Holt's underlings in Blood Oath, tries to take Cade down with a water pistol full of holy water. It goes about as well as you would expect: he succeeds only in spectacularly pissing Cade off, who then batters him to a pulp, reduces Ken into a quivering wreck desperately begging for his life, and then kills him when he discovers Blayclock spent the hours before Cade's arrival torturing Zach.
  • Disappeared Dad: Zach and his father Frank do not have a good relationship; Zach resents the fact that his father was never around during his childhood, and seemed more concerned with indulging his alcoholism and womanising than supporting his family. Zach is also angry that in the past his father blackmailed him for money with the threat of revealing his past brushes with the law and that Frank didn't bother to show up and at least try to make amends to Zach's mother when she was dying.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In Deep State, Wyman orders Cade to hit Zach any time the latter shows Wyman any perceived disrespect.
    Zach: Come on, Lester! This is stupid, even for you!
    Wyman: Cade, I want you to hit Barrows every time he doesn't address me by my proper title.
    Zach: Fine, Mr. President. This is stupid, even for you.
  • The Dreaded: Anyone in league with the Other Side considers Cade this and lives in terror of when he inevitably shows up.
  • Dr. Frankenstein: Dr. Johann Konrad is the In-Universe inspiration of Dr. Frankenstein. He perfected his Elixir of Youth in 1693, and used it to live for centuries and continue his obscene work up until 1734, when one of his creations got loose and killed dozens of people before it was brought down, forcing Konrad to make a quick exit when an angry mob stormed his castle afterwards. Apparently Mary Shelley got the idea for the novel while on holiday near Konrad's family castle and hearing the accounts of his atrocities. Konrad is a monsterous sociopath and proud former Nazi who creates zombies and other biological weapons of mass destruction in his efforts to destroy America as well as his Arch-Enemy vampire Nathaniel Cade.
  • Driven to Suicide: At the end of The President's Vampire, Will Prador, President Curtis's Chief of Staff intentionally overdoses after his involvement with the Shadow Company's plan to release the Snakehead virus on America becomes known, knowing full well it was only a matter of time before Cade came for him.
    Zach: He got off lightly.
    Curtis: He wasn't the first to spare Cade the work. And he won't be the last.
    • Cade also notes that anytime they've tried incarcerating the Boogeyman in solitary confinement, the creature has compelled its host body to commit suicide, thus ensuring it will be free to be summoned once more.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Zach finally snaps in The Burning Men, angrily shouting at two members of the cleanup crew for cracking macabre jokes over the bodies of seventeen people.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Proctor works for the Shadow Company, but is also a loving husband and father who hates that he doesn't get to spend as much time with his family as he'd like.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Governor Seabrook refuses the Shadow Company's aid to get himself elected President, suspecting there will be a price to pay if he does.
    • President Eisenhower passed legislation effectively forbidding any of his successors from making use of Konrad's discoveries.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Wyman can't understand why Griff, who's dying of cancer, won't use the Elixir of Life to save himself. When Griffin tells him that there are some values you wouldn't sell for any price, he's even more baffled.
  • Evil Chancellor: Les Wyman is the Vice-President version of this trope, being in deep with the Shadow Company, though having his own agenda. At the end of Red, White, and Blood, he assassinates Curtis, allowing him to become President Evil.
  • Evil Is Petty: During her time in the CIA, Holt ratted out her entire team to the Islamic extremists they were shadowing, resulting in their deaths, because she was insulted they were sidelining her because she was the junior member of the team. This got her noticed by the Shadow Company. She also contemplates having Wyman assassinated simply because he had the nerve to hang up on her.
    • Konrad admits this is the sole reason why he betrays Holt and injects her with a false version of his Elixir of Life, leaving her semi-paralysed.
    • Wyman spends his time in Deep State belittling and humiliating Cade and Zach as payback for their (justified) contempt for him in previous books.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Tania notes to Cade if he refuses to feed on human blood, he will eventually suffer this.
    • Holt notes that for those who screw over the Shadow Company, the punishments only start at death.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Konrad presents himself as a cultured, erudite and polite man friendly to his staff and clients, when in truth he's the original Mad Scientist and Evilutionary Biologist with a sense (or rather complete lack) of morality that would make Joseph Mengele look clean by comparison, who has worked for the Nazis pioneering bioweapons and carrying out his research in the concentration camps, before moving on after the war to serve the Soviets, Islamic militants, the Shadow Company and just about any group who will allow him to continue his research, as well as being willing to murder prostitutes to extract what he needs to keep himself immortal from their bodies, and willfully murders and betrays people (including his allies) for reasons as petty as the fact he simply doesn't like them.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: The original one was destroyed by a Torches and Pitchforks crowd, but the original Frankenstein, Johann Konrad, still creates them, calling them Unmenschensoldaten.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Nathaniel tries to be one, drinking only animals' blood and serving the US government in the fight against creatures to whom he's technically closer than to humans, although his personality rather defies the "friendly" part.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Zach of all people gets to be this in the second book: having spent most of the book being derided by Graves and his Shadow Company lackies, at the end of the novel, Zach pulls out all the stops to get the Shadow Company's public face, the Private Military Contractors Archer/Andrews, discredited and disgraced while Cade strikes at them from the shadows.
    ''Within days of Graves' return from Iowa, congressional subpoenas hit the offices. The IRS began an audit. FBI agents were talking to A/A clients and there were rumours of a federal grand jury. Now even the reporters smelled blood and were circling. He knew where this was coming from, of course: the White House. He never thought that little bastard Barrows could generate so many problems in such a short amount of time.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Apparently Griff got the Mongolian Death Worm Cade keeps as a trophy/pet in the Reliquary to eat hot dogs.
  • Foreshadowing: Shortly after JFK's assassination, Cade meets with Robert Kennedy who tells Cade that he suspects the Order to have been behind his brother's death and that while he is no position to strike back at them now, will be once he has secured the Democratic nomation for the presidency and asks if Cade will assist him in the matter when the time comes. Cade agrees, but privately suspects after this meeting, he will never see the younger Kennedy again.
  • Ghostapo: Hitler wanted Konrad to create Frankenstein Monsters for him to use in combat, and create epidemics that would wipe out the British. Konrad was experimenting with the former, but refused to do the latter, on the ground that said epidemic can easily turn against its master.
  • Gratuitous German: The Frankenstein monsters are called Unmenschensoldaten, which is German for "Inhuman Soldiers".
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Cade insists humanity would suffer this if they knew the truth about the Other Side.
  • Heroic BSoD: Cade mentions that he went through one after World War Two, when what he saw made him question whether the world is actually worth saving. He got out of this when he accidentally stumbled upon Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and realized that his Horror Hunger is similar to their alcohol addiction.
  • Heroic Willpower: When Zach tests whether Cade would do his every order and drink human blood, that's the only thing that stops Cade from giving in.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Cade has this in spades and it's up to Tania and Zach to pull him out of it. Long story short, he's a devout Calvinist convinced he's a monster who can't redeem itself and can only try to do good until finally something beats him and he'll burn in Hell.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite the party girl persona she cultivates for the press, Candace Curtis is far more intelligent and media-savvy than she lets on. She is also one of the few people not to show fear of Cade to his face. During her time on the campaign trail, she angrily chews out a number of journalists who want to see proof of a car wreck that's killed two Secret Service agents ( they were actually killed by the Boogeyman) by pointing out that the families of the agents don't need to see their loved ones' mangled bodies splashed across the tabloids. She's also fiercely devoted to her family: her first thought during the Unmenschensoldaten attack on the White House is her father's safety, and she leaves the safety of a panic room aboard Air Force One to find and protect her little brother, even though the Boogeyman is aboard and on the rampage.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: How Cade defeats the Shadowmen: Since their abilities work by moving between this world and the Other Side, but keeping them invisible to whatever lives there, he grabs them in mid-transit, leaving them halfway between worlds and vulnerable, and injures them to draw the predatory attention of what's on the Other Side. One is driven insane, while the other just disappears, apparently devoured.
  • Horror Hunger: Cade's thirst for human blood is so strong that at one point he actually runs away from the pool of spilled blood despite the spiller being the person he was supposed to kill - from fear that he would lose control.
  • Human Resources: Konrad's clinic uses parts of human bodies acquired from unwilling subjects: skin in youth cream, bones for cosmetic surgery, soul for Elixir of Youth...
  • I Gave My Word: A subverted example from Red, White and Blood: after getting the intel they need out of Del Collins, the leader of a white supremacist gang whose members, at the behest of Helen Holt, are about to launch a terrorist attack on a Curtis campaign rally, Collins reminds them that Cade promised to let him which Cade replies that he told the guy he was free to walk out of there, which much to Zach's amusement and Collins' horror, he is no longer physically capable of doing, Cade having broken pretty much every bone in his body beforehand. Collins doesn't get halfway to the door before he collapses from agonising pain and Cade puts him out of his misery.
  • Immodest Orgasm: Tania is this when she visits Cade to take advantage of him, much to Zach's annoyance.
    Zach: I've heard the echoes when Tania comes to visit you.
  • Improvised Weapon: Cade will fight with anything he can get his hands on. The best example is at the climax of the first book, where he hits an Unmenschensoldaten with the Resolute Desk.
  • Intro-Only Point of View: Blood Oath starts with the POV of a random soldier who witnesses a fight between Cade and a bunch of werewolves, then returns to Iraq and is never seen again.
  • It's All About Me: Everything Wyman does revolves solely around his desire to become President of the United States, ignoring the fact that he's completely unsuitable for the job and pretty much everyone in his own party despises him and tolerates him only because of his connection to Curtis.
  • Just Following Orders: Plenty of mooks and underlings try to explain away their involvement in the Other Side's plans as this. Cade is never swayed by it.
    Cade: Just following orders? I was there when that defence was invented. It didn't work then, either.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Konrad in Blood Oath. Though Cade desperately wants to kill him, he knows that taking the few minutes needed to rip Konrad's spine out through his chest might be the few minutes that cost the President his life. Cade leaves to thwart the attack on the White House and Konrad escapes to Pakistan with his jihadi allies.
    • Helen Holt does this a lot.
    • Vice President Lester Wyman. Though a fair few people suspect him of being involved in the Unmenschensoldaten attack on the White House, by the end of the first novel, those who do are either dead or don't have enough proof to condemn him. He's later able to use this to assassinate President Curtis, fake the death as a heart attack and get himself sworn in.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the Snakehead problem is destroyed.
  • Killed Off for Real: Curtis dies in Red, White and Blood.
  • Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Reliquary, Cade's lair, is in a secret chamber underneath the Smithsonian Castle.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Helen is so desperate for Konrad's elixer that it's perfectly ironic that he gives her a flawed version that slows her metabolism down to "geological" levels, leaving her mostly paralyzed.
    • How Cade takes down Graves: the Colonel's permanent Presidential pardon is in his given name, so after learning his true one, Zac puts it on the kind of extradition order Graves' private security company always uses, and has the President sign off on it, giving Cade free range to kill him.
  • Mad Doctor: Both Zach and Helen consider Konrad to be this, although he himself believes he's perfectly sane and reasonable.
    Zach: The guy is more full of shit than a duck pond.
  • Made of Iron: While not what she wanted, Helen has gotten some uses out of Konrad's betrayal of her; her paralysed right arm allows her to hit people with the force of being struck by a tree branch, and enables her to apparently survive being shot point blank in the head by Zach.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Wyman kills Curtis by poisoning him in such a way it looks like he had a smoking-induced heart attack.
  • Middle-Management Mook: Proctor is the highest ranked Shadow Company we've seen so far, but is still just a mouthpiece for the higher ups.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: The Snakeheads subscribe to this. Cade actually uses this to his advantage: by injuring some members of the pack, he buys time for himself to get away as the others fight amongst themselves for the chance to devour the wounded. Aboard the hospital ship, Cade severely injures one Snakehead, then uses it as bait to lure out the remainded aboard into a trap he's concocted.
  • Motive Rant: Konrad gives an epic one when asked why he's provided Islamic Jihadists with Unmenschensoldaten to help destroy America.
    Holt: Why?
    Konrad: Why? Oh, it shouldn't be that hard for you to figure out. Revenge. Not just against Cade. This whole arrogant, adolescent country. The one that destroyed my home twice in the last century. That put a military base on the ruins of my family's castle. I want to see someone inflict the same pain on America that they brought to the Reich. I want to see their dream turn to a nightmare, like mine. I want them to wake up screaming. [Helen shakes her head, and Konrad realises she means why he's betrayed and paralysed her]. Oh, you mean why did I do this to you? That's actually much simpler: I don't like you, Helen.
  • My Greatest Failure: Cade considers failing to save Tania from vampirism this. She doesn't feel the same way, as she often points out to him.
    • Zach's father Frank spends most of his last POV chapter regretting that he hadn't been more of a presence and a better role model in his son's life.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Shadow Company and, if you know German, Unmenschensoldaten.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Pretty much nothing apart from a nuclear blast or direct sunlight could kill Cade. When he meets head-on with a car, he looks as if nothing happen, and the car is pretty much impossible to use anymore.
  • No Party Given: It's never said which party Zach and Curtis are from.
    • Ultimately subverted in Red, White, and Blood, which specifically states them to be Democrats.
  • Odd Couple: One's an ambitious White House politician and a smooth talker, the other is an immortal, antisocial vampire.
  • Oh, Crap!: A lot of people who get on the wrong side of Cade exhibit this, usually just seconds before he rips their throats out/turns their trachea into a necklace/bends bones in ways they're not meant to bend, etc...
  • Old Soldier: Griff has been Cade's partner for over three decades and there's little that would surprise him anymore. Even before this assignment, he was an FBI agent, so he has a lot of experience to draw from.
  • Our Presidents Are Different:
    • Curtis is definitely President Personable: kind, intelligent, worried about the dangers lurking out there and terrified of the supernatural dangers that lurk outside. He also doesn't seem to mind that Zach slept with his daughter.
    • In Cade's flashbacks, Andrew Johnson comes across as President Jerkass who's alway drunk or near-drunk, although this might be because Johnson's trying to cover his fear or repulsion of vampires.
    • In another flashback, Ulysses Grant considers himself a greater monster than Cade for the fact he is honoured for his deeds during the Civil War, despite the devestation and death it caused, but accepts it and the fact he is sending Cade out to assassinate any surviving instigators of the war in the hope of making the future better.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are functionally immortal, although they have to drink blood to stay young, and drinking human blood gives them additional powers compared to feeding on animals. Sunlight hurts them, and during the day they are weaker. They have supernatural senses, strength and speed and have to sleep once in about a week. Garlic and silver do nothing, although religious symbols and places hurt.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: Cade stops a Shadow Company agent's car by standing in front of it and then punching it, sending it on the wall and crushing beyond saving. It's a small miracle that its passengers survived this.
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Konrad worked for the Nazis during WWII. Then the Soviets during the Cold War. And now the Shadow Company and the jihadis in the present. All so someone will support and finance his work.
  • President Evil: The Shadow Company would love to install one of these. By the time of Red, White, and Blood, they've decided to try and recruit Curtis' running opponent, Governor Seabrook, who seems likely to win. Then at the end of the book, Vice-President Wyman, who has an alliance with the Company, kills Curtis, thus taking over.
  • Prison Riot: According to Cade, when they tried to put the Boogeyman in prison instead of just killing it, it ended up with 39 people dead and the government having to engineer a riot to cover up the deaths.
  • Private Military Contractors: Archer/Andrews, from the second book. Naturally, they're a front for the Shadow Company.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Zac, Griff and a lot of people see his being given the position of Cade's new handler as punishment for trying to sleep with the President's daughter.
    Zach: Just tell me what I want to know. I'm not here to play games.
    Griff: The way I heard it, you're here because the Secret Service caught you with the President's nineteen-year old daughter in the Lincoln Bedroom. Doing something that was definitely not for the purpose of procreation.
    • Deep State begins with Zach being relieved of his position as Cade's handler and promoted sideways into a dead-end office job in Nebraska.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Usually, hot-blooded and easily irritated Zach is Red to calm Cade's Blue, but when Konrad is concerned, the roles reverse.
  • Refusal of the Call: In the beginning, Zach tries to weasel out of his new assignment, going as far as to ask the President directly, but he's sternly told that it's a job for life and he just plain can't refuse. After a while, however, when Cade suggests Zach better go home, he refuses, to his own surprise.
    • In Deep State, when Wyman calls Zach back to Washington to reassume his position as Cade's handler four years after promoting him sideways, Zach (who in addition to resenting Wyman for that, already hates the man and openly considers him responsible for Curtis's death) bluntly tells Wyman to go fuck himself.
    Lester Wyman: I'll come right to the point. I need your help.
    Zach: No.
    Wyman: Excuse me?
    Zach: No. Did I stutter?
    Wyman: You haven't even heard what-
    Zach: Don't know. Don't care. If you want my help, you called the wrong guy, because I am all out of fucks to give.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Snakeheads. Zach states this trope as the reason why Konrad wouldn't be behind this threat.
  • Rescue Sex: A villainous version. When Konrad "saves" Helen by agreeing to give her the Elixir of Life, she immediately has sex with him, to his considerable amusement.
    Konrad: It would be enough to say 'thank you'.
  • Revenge by Proxy: In Red, White, and Blood, the Boogeyman decides to go after Curtis as payback on Cade for always ruining its fun in the past. And then it goes after Curtis' family instead, in order to make them both suffer.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: As per his oath, Nathaniel really goes to town on those he considers to have betrayed the United States. Plenty have chosen suicide over facing Cade's fury.
    Holt: I'm a citizen, and an officer of the United States Government. You can't touch me.
    Cade: [...] My oath to protect does not extend to traitors. You'd be surprised what I can do to traitors.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Holt asks why the Shadow Company doesn't send a message to Cade to back off by killing Zach, her superior coldly tells her that the last time the Company killed one of Cade's handlers, the President gave him full discretion to do whatever he saw fit to those responsible. The Company apparently had to cut loose a great many of its agents to cover their tracks, and is not prepared to deal with that kind of fallout again.
    • Cade went on another one after Kennedy's assassination, in the process thwarting an attempt by the Shadow Company to assassinate Johnson as well, frame Cuba for both deaths and set off World War III.
  • Running Gag: Cade chastising someone for taking the Lord's name in vain.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Cade assaults the Shadow Company's LA base to rescue Zac, Reyes abandons his partners and flees out the building's rear.
  • Sex Signals Death: When Zach ask why the Boogeyman's victims tend to be couples having sex, Cade remarks that Griff theorised that since the Boogeyman is preconditioned to hate life, it despises sex as the ultimate expression of that.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Helen Holt oozes this, believing that she's manipulating Konrad, the Shadow Company and the Boogeyman into doing her bidding when it never occurs to her that in truth all three are perfectly aware she plans to betray them at some point, and simply use that to get her to do what they want before discarding her when she's of no more use.
    • Colonel Graves in The President's Vampire is another one, confident that his presidential pardon for his involvement in Kennedy's assassination protects him from Cade's wrath. He's disabused of this at the end of the novel where Cade reveals that the current President has rescinded the pardon and branded him an enemy combatant, meaning Cade has free rein to do what he likes.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: The plot of The Burning Men involves a group of student radicals who've learned how to weaponise this, effectively turning themselves into living bombs in pursuit of their agenda.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Tania's mild obsession with Cade looks like this sometimes, as she's following him everywhere even despite him having rather off-putting character and not really being interested.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Vampires can't swim. And worse, they can't actually drown, so they'd end up trapped underwater forever.
  • Talking to the Dead: In Red, White and Blood, out of options and with no leads on the Boogeyman's location, Cade tries to commune with the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. Cade initially gets a one-word answer that he thinks is just a taunt from the spirit, but when Zach looks a little deeper, it gives them a lead to a potential suspect that puts them back on the trail.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Invoked by Will Prador, Curtis's Chief of Staff, who notes that his family have been a part of the organisation behind the Shadow Company for generations, reaping the benefits for their own advancement, to the point they're in too deep to ever be able to break free.
  • The Dark Arts: The necromancy and the alchemy that created the Elixir of Life both count, mostly due to the fact that they need Human Resources to work.
  • The Mole: The Shadow Company has several in the government, including the White House Chief of Staff and Vice-President Wyman.
  • The One That Got Away: Zach's relationship with the President's daughter Candace has elements of this. After their indiscretion in the Lincoln Bedroom, Zach is reassigned to work with Cade (as, he assumes, a punishment for trying to screw the First Daughter) and she jets off to California before anything more can happen. They meet up again on her father's campaign trail a few years later where she admits she had had a crush on him from the time when she was a teen and he was in high school volunteering on her father's campaign trail, as well as the only one who paid her any attention then and that she regrets their acrimonious parting after what happened. For a time it looks like they might hit it off, but after Candace's near-death encounter with the Boogeymen aboard Air Force One, she breaks it off again, sadly stating she can't handle the monsters Zach deals with every day in her life.
  • The Starscream: Helen plots with Konrad behind her superiors' backs, and by the time of Red, White, and Blood has gone completely rogue.
  • The Virus: The main threat in the second book is a form of weaponized Marsh family DNA, which near instantly transforms anyone exposed to it into a Snakehead.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Konrad, usually composed, has a brief moment when, watching the work of his Human Resources extractor, muses in his head, "and to think they called me mad!"
  • This Is Unforgivable!: When Cade discovers how the Shadow Company is manufacturing the Snakehead virus, namely by using abducted children as incubators, he asks Bell, the Shadow Company agent he'd taken prisoner, serving as his reluctant access deeper into the facility, in a low and deadly voice if she knew what was going on. When Bell admits she did, she notices Cade is shaking...and then realises with genuine terror that he is resisting the urge to kill her.
    He was no longer human. And in that moment,at least,he was glad of it.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Cade goes to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, as he considers their problems to be similar to his and believes it to help him keep his humanity. He claims that it really helps him, even though he never speaks during the meetings.
  • Uriah Gambit: In Deep State, Cade suspects this is why Wyman reassigned Zach to him, hoping Zach would be killed by whatever they might encounter on the mission.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Played with. Zach notes that Cade, despite looking good, has something that makes humans around him terrified of him, while Tania, a vampiress herself, considers him to be sexy. Cade himself states this:
    Cade: Humans are our food. Do you want to have sex with a cow?
  • Vampire Bites Suck: In Red, White and Blood, when Cade desperately needing blood to save himself after being poisoned with a toxin that causes rapid blood clotting, attacks a journalist trying to dig up dirt on President Curtis, the description makes a vampire bite seem more like an attack by a big cat.
    ''That was the last thing she thought before Cade ripped out her throat. The writers who described a vampire's bite as two neat puncture wounds in the neck were either being polite or or had never really looked at their own teeth. A vampire, when he bites, hyperextends his canines, the third tooth on each side from the centre. They are necessary for any carnivore, designed by evolution for the express purpose of rending flesh. Canines are used for only one thing, even by humans. Canines tear. Megan Roark's head was attached to her body only by her broken neck and some gristle.
  • Vampire Monarch: Especially ancient vampires, like the one that turned Cade, are classified as "Kings". Mostly subverted, however, due to the fact that vampires are solitary beings and don't have a hierarchy.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Bar his first burst of Horror Hunger after his creation, Cade refuses even voluntarily donated or blood-bank-derived human blood, believing that if he gives in, he won't be able to stop. He drinks animal blood instead; the only time Cade has seriously attempted to disobey an order from Zach was when Zach 'ordered' him to drink what he claimed to be blood just to see what Cade would do early in their partnership. Tania considers this squeamishness. Cade unwittingly breaks this rule when Zach arranges for him to receive suitable transfusions after he's left seriously injured following his battle with the Boogeyman, but this occurs when Cade is unconscious and unaware of what's happening to him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Several villains exhibit this (usually before Cade snaps them in half). Some examples include:
    • Blood Oath: Wyman suffers a partial one when he realises his Shadow Company allies have betrayed and left him to be killed in the Unmenschensoldaten attack on the White House with Curtis. To his credit, he manages to regain his composure before he can inadvertently let slip he's in cahoots with the company.
    • The President's Vampire: Colonel Graves suffers a full one when he sees the President has signed his real name, on a "Indefinite Preventative Detention" order, cancelling out the pardon he was given under his pseudonym for his involvement in Kennedy's assassination and leaving Cade free to rip him into scraps of meat.
    Graves: Do we really have to do this again? You cannot touch me. Ever. And I will never fear you again. Learn to accept defeat. Or don't. Either way, I have a busy schedule this week.
    Cade: You're a important man, I get that. I promise, this won't take long. ( Cade shows Graves the form in his true name, Peter Sinclair, cancelling out his pardon and labeling him a traitor to the USA). You have been designated as an enemy combatant, Colonel.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Even though Cade had Konrad basically by the collar, the mad doctor still manages to escape by pointing out that the president's in danger and invoking Cade's blood oath.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zach invokes this to Curtis, pointing out that Curtis's willingness to treat the battle with the Other Side as another political problem to be delegated left him blind to the fact his chief of staff was a Shadow Company mole, nearly got Cade and Zach killed and almost left it too late to avert an apocalyptic disaster.
    Zach: A lot of people could have died because you trusted the wrong man. Of more immediate concern to me, I almost died because of the choice you made.
  • Who Shot JFK?: The Shadow Company, of course. Though it turns out that was just stage one of the plan — they were also supposed to blow up Air Force One while Johnson was onboard being sworn in, then leave evidence that pointed towards Cuban agents, in order to trigger World War III. Fortunately, Cade hunted down and killed the team responsible, before this could happen.
    • It's also implied they were behind Robert Kennedy's assassination, as he had figured it out and was planning to send Cade to wipe them out for good as revenge once he succeeded his brother to the Presidency.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Zach shoots Holt in the head in Red, White and Blood as payback for what he suffered thanks to her in Blood Oath.
  • Would Hurt a Child: One of the Shadow Company's first tests of the Snakehead virus is to infect African child soldiers with it and then turn them loose on a suitable target.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Cade spends the whole first book calling Zac "Barrows". Come the Unmenschensoldaten attack on the White House at the climax, he actually calls him "Zac".
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The reason Griff is retiring in the first book is because he has terminal cancer. And then he's killed by an Unmenschensoldaten at the book's climax.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Cade's response to Zach asking what happened when they tried caging the Boogeyman in an insane asylum.
  • You Have Failed Me: A non-lethal varient from Red, White and Blood: The Shadow Company cuts Wyman loose, stating that their alliance with him is no longer a benefit, given his failure to fulfil his end of their deal and given they don't expect Curtis to win re-election, the Company would rather start building ties with his potential Republican successor.
    Wyman: Wait, after all I've done for you, that's it? You're cutting me loose?!
    Proctor: You've had more than enough chances, Lester. You were given every opportunity to close the deal. You failed. But you're walking away. Count your blessings. You get to keep that shriveled little thing you call a soul.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Zach's reaction in Deep State to sending in Cade and Zach covertly to disarm a Cold War nuclear missile silo about to fire a missile at the Kremlin, because alerting the Russians to the problem would completely destroy any possible chance he has of getting a second term as President.
    Zach: Are you kidding me?! You'd actually risk nuclear war just to protect your election chances?!
  • Zombie Apocalypse:
    • The Unmenschensoldaten attack at the end of Blood Oath has overtures of this.
    • The Shadow Company tries to pull this in The President's Vampire. ( Although technically it's more of a Lizardman Apocalypse).
    • A varient in Deep State involving a mutant, sentient Cordyceps fungus taking over the population of a town in Wyoming surrounding a hidden nuclear missile silo to allow the fungus to make use of the missiles to wipe out humanity in order to save itself from extinction.

Alternative Title(s): The Presidents Vampire