James Book was an agent of the Pinkerton Agency in 1880, when he was unknowingly employed by a secret group of European vampires to hunt down and apprehend the thief and murderer called Skinner Sweet. He succeeded, but this success drew him into a world of vampires he never knew existed.
James Book was created by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque in the American Vampire series from Vertigo. His story, however, was told in a backup feature of the first five issues that was written by Stephen King.
Snyder described the essence of the character as the Batman to Skinner Sweet's Joker.
Major Story Arcs
Having apprehended Skinner Sweet, James Book escorted him via railroad to where he was to be hanged. However, Sweet's gang attempted to free him, resulting in an intense shootout. Book took a bullet, and Sweet seemingly died. Book awake a few days later only to hear the news of his wife's tragic death by poisoned wine Sweet had sent her shortly before being apprehended.
Twenty years later, Skinner Sweet rose from his grave as the first American Vampire and went on a path of bloody vengeance. When he news reached James Book, he headed out after Sweet along with his former partner and his partner's daughter, Abilena Camillo. Book faced off against Sweet in a mine on a moonless night, which turned out to be Sweet's time of weakness. In the fight, some of Sweet's blood splashed into Book's eye. The mine collapsed, and Book left Sweet buried inside.
Because he was still of the living, it took time for Sweet's vampire blood to fully affect Book, but it was affecting him. He knew it meant he was turning into the same kind of monster that Sweet was and desperately did not want that to happen. Abilena had remained with him since that night with Sweet and watched as he struggled with his curse. Eventually, Book had to admit defeat. There was no treatment, and he could not resist the changes through his own force of will. He opted for the last option he saw left to him. He asked Abilena to kill him on a moonless night, hoping that would be enough to end him and stop him from ever becoming like Skinner Sweet.
Abilena initially refused, confessing her love for him. Then, she relented on one condition. She wanted him to leave behind something of herself. The two of them had sex that night, leaving her pregnant with his child. After some more urging, she shot him dead as he desired.
Months later, Abilena gave birth to his daughter, Felicia Book.
The Beast in the Cave
Scott Snyder takes the readers all the way back to the late 1700's and the early 1800's in this storyline, in which we see James Book and Skinner Sweet's past life, as officials. It turns out the man of law and the cold blooded killer were big friends in their early life.
Book, most of the time, disapproved Sweet's horrifying and merciless acts, that later on in the series caused the two of them to become great enemies.