John Steakley,
(Roc, 1992)

What if vampires were real? Would you imagine their arch-nemesis to be a lone, petite woman with a collection of knives and guns, some serious emotional/sexual issues and an obsession with Nike sneakers? Or a young, superpowered girl with a tan and a gang of wacky pals?

Probably not. If vampires were real, their foes would more likely resemble the team led by hard-drinking, foul-mouthed Jack Crow in John Steakley's Vampire$. Crow leads a team of church-sponsored mercenaries who employ an impressive arsenal and expert combat training to tackle fiends who, at the peak of their strength, are nearly impossible to stop by any means.

Once you accept the leap of faith necessary to embrace a world with real vampires, Steakley's book slips neatly into the realm of believability. People die. Plans fail. Warriors who fight hard and live on the edge of death will also play hard. Leaders adopt bravado when necessary, yet suffer inconsolable guilt when their people fall in the line of duty.

And the public is unwilling to believe that vampires exist. The media won't report on vampire-related incidents, believing them to fall more into purview of the tabloid journalism -- even when entire towns bear witness to the reality of the problem.

The book runs into a few hitches -- one extended flashback scene grinds on far too long, and smacks of voyeurism more than storytelling -- but overall it's a fast-moving, exciting book that will keep you riveted to the page. This is a vampire story we can believe in.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 11 October 2002

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