"A well-written mystery that’s equal parts funny and suspenseful ... A good old-fashioned mystery novel with a lovable leading man at its heart."– Kirkus Reviews
A horror debut sees a vampire cross paths with an undercover cop in a drug cartel.
Ex-Marine Rudy Valdez works as hired muscle for drug smuggler Guillermo “El Gecko” Calderon. Rudy patrols a San Diego dock one night, AK-47 in hand, to ensure a smooth meeting between El Gecko and wannabe kingpin Juanito Lobo. As the meeting opens aboard the Sulu Sea freighter, someone begins efficiently and brutally killing other cartel members patrolling the dock. During the meeting, Lobo points an AA-12 automatic shotgun at Jorge, El Gecko’s bodyguard, and claims he’s a cop. After the ensuing melee, Jorge encounters a pale, well-dressed man who says: “There is no need to continue your charade, Reginald.” This man, responsible for the nighttime slaughter, is a vampire, one with a specific interest in DS Reginald Downing. Reggie soon finds himself struggling to explain events to his colleagues, but the possibility that another cop outed him to the rival cartel is quite real. The vampire, meanwhile, is Edwin Thaddeus Marx, a stockbroker for Asian markets who’s holed up in Kensington. He’ll stalk pimps, murderers, and anyone else with darkness in their hearts. By sparing both Rudy and Reggie during his spree, however, he’s climbed into a complex web that just may trap him until morning comes. In this sleek horror noir, Allen hits vampire fans with a gut-shot of fabulous action and character work. Gore arrives by the bucket, as when Edwin “twisted with a savage grunt...ripping the esophagus out completely, rupturing both carotid arteries, and pulling out supporting musculature.” The author also sketches people and places in brisk, unforgettable strokes, including the first victim, meth-head T-Ball, and the storied K Street building the detectives work from. References to Bram Stoker and Dracula are likewise entertaining; Edwin’s journal entry says, “Stoker paid real vampires a disservice, due to his ignorance and lack of belief,” portraying them as one-dimensional and sex-crazed. Readers who have sampled vampire myths far and wide may be surprised by the depth of soul in Allen’s story.
A savagely good vampire tale that’s unafraid of its subject’s potential.
In Allen’s debut mystery, the first of a planned series, a plucky young reporter takes matters into his own hands when his new crush goes missing.
Things look grim for Duncan Walsh, a young Northwestern University School of Journalism graduate. He was fired from his job at Chicago’s Channel 8 News for punching the lecherous (albeit Emmy-award winning) lead news anchor in the neck. As a result, Duncan struggles to get by on little money, living on “ramen noodles, five dollar foot longs, the occasional museum entrance fee, and admittedly, the occasional beer. One had to keep living.” Then he meets Agnes Nowakowski, a beguiling, sharp paleontology tour guide at the Chicago Museum of Natural History. Charmed by her brains and beauty, he takes her on a coffee date, undeterred by the fact that she’s seeing someone else. The unemployed Duncan fills his days with his pursuit of Agnes, hoping to win a second date. Eventually, the two connect by phone but don’t meet, as Agnes is slated to head off to a long archaeological dig in Montana. Duncan is shocked several days later when he sees Agnes’ face on the 10 o’clock news; apparently, she mysteriously disappeared before she even boarded her bus. Duncan is certain that he’ll be a suspect and decides to clear his own name by finding out what happened to Agnes himself. Allen’s page-turner chronicles Duncan’s investigation from start to finish, from his creation of his own online news outlet to get press passes to news conferences to his confrontation with Agnes’ boyfriend, James, about her disappearance. Ultimately, he follows a lead that ends up being far more dangerous than he ever imagined. Allen delivers a well-written mystery that’s equal parts funny and suspenseful. Although the book’s mystery is intriguing, what makes it truly successful is its lead character, Duncan, who’s a relatable, charmingly witty and admirably gutsy narrator. Readers will likely find him the perfect candidate to star in his own mystery series.
A good old-fashioned mystery novel with a lovable leading man at its heart.