"A bored socialite joins a small band of vampire hunters in Leone’s (Mysterious Albion, 2013) latest thriller, the second in the Vatican Vampire Hunters series."– Kirkus Reviews
A bored socialite joins a small band of vampire hunters in Leone’s (Mysterious Albion, 2013) latest thriller, the second in the Vatican Vampire Hunters series.
Nicole, of the affluent van Wyck family, finds her way to a detective’s office, skeptical of a man’s earlier claim that he was a cop. Her doubt was on the mark, and Wally, a PI and leader of a group of vampire hunters, is so impressed with her smarts and resolve that he decides to recruit her. As Nicole is being trained, a fearsome vamp, the Count, and the equally formidable Alice search for three keys to unlock a book that would bring the villains tremendous power. Leone slightly revises vampire lore: garlic and stakes are out, beheadings and setting bloodsuckers afire are in. But his story subverts the possibility of “misunderstood brooders of the tragic night” by making vampirism a form of demonic possession—demons who’ll do whatever they can to prevent being sent back to hell. Holy water and crucifixes can be used as defense, and religious overtones are heavy in places, as with Nicole, who’s initially a casual churchgoer but almost a devout Catholic by book’s end. Leone also has fun with reader anticipation, leading to some rather clever scenes: For instance, the anticipated first kiss between Nicole and Marty, the only other single vampire hunter, is celebrated by a passerby’s “Woo-hoo!” The story’s humor is occasionally blatant—Nicole is assured that the guns used for training won’t bite—but often deviously subtle: A vampire demon says, in mock surprise, “I’ll be damned.” Add to all this an ancient, vamp-killing dagger; a Jewish scholar in cahoots with the Catholic vampire stalkers; and a cameo from the Lord of the Underworld, who hasn’t necessarily sanctioned the Count’s plan, and that’s a recipe for an endlessly diverting tale.
A solid vampire yarn for readers who’ve had enough of moping, love-struck bloodsuckers.
Ancient undead, dark prophecies and the Catholic Church collide in Leone’s taut thriller, the first in a planned series.
After a brief prologue set in the ancient British Isles, long before the Normans or the Saxons laid claim to the land, the story opens in present-day London, with American Lucy Manning and her friend, Chrissy, enjoying the club scene. That is, until a handsome club-goer turns out to be a vampire and attacks them. Lucy barely survives; Chrissy disappears (and later turns up as a vampire herself). A priest and a nun approach Lucy in the hospital, who later reveal that they’re part of a squad—approved, but not officially chartered, by the Vatican—dedicated to killing vampires and other supernatural nuisances. Lucy accepts their invitation to join them, and begins a tough, whirlwind training regimen, made bearable by her budding romance with another vampire hunter. However, there are signs that the vampire population—and its supernatural threat to the entire world—is growing. Leone’s tight narrative expends little effort on subplots not directly connected to the main story. Although its basic storyline has been explored before—Leone explicitly acknowledges in the introduction his debt to John Steakley’s 2008 novel Vampire$—the novel’s character development gives it a refreshing depth and thoughtfulness. Lucy, a levelheaded but individualistic protagonist, chafes at restrictions and her trainer’s taunts, but realistically judges her own fitness and puts her emotions aside to focus on what needs to be done. None of the other characters have any illusions about their life expectancies—and the bloody climax of the book, a protracted battle in an abandoned tunnel complex, makes clear their fatalism is warranted—but they share a hope and belief that what they do makes the world better.
A well-plotted vampire novel with an unusually self-aware protagonist.