Sixteen original queer, bi-, and hetero tales of blood and lust: the first vampiric sheaf ever solely by women, with a feminine and feminist view of the genre. Most contributors are unknowns, many quite literary and taking their first night bite. Introducing the collection, Brownworth and her unlisted helper/coeditor, Judith M. Redding, give a rubber-fanged, seven- page survey of vamp-fi that offers nothing new, nor anything personal. Brownworth's own story, ``Twelfth Night,'' has a terrific idea, that of a female vampire journalist who never murders but instead feeds nightly on deserving murderers in the world's bloodiest hot spots—Rwanda, Bosnia, Haiti, and so on. Brownworth, however, mutes everything with endless exposition and local color about New Orleans and with a wispy climax. Redding's ``Unexpurgated Notes from a Homicide Case File'' is all story and tells (in police file notes) of a rash of teenage deaths in Philadelphia and of some vampires who apparently need geraniums to purify themselves after taking blood from victims of crack or AIDS. In Meredith Suzanne Baird's ``They Have No Faces,'' Lydia hopes that a trip to Romania will cure her husband's alcoholism and make him the man he used to be. It doesn't. Meanwhile, the most strikingly imaginative tale here, ``Anita, Polish Vampire, Holds Forth at the Jewish Cafe of the Dead,'' features Judith Katz's truly amusing lesbian bloodsuckers, who sit gorging on fresh hearts in a dusty cafe filled with vampires that were murdered in a pre-Holocaust pogrom. Mystery writer Nikki Baker offers the volume's tightest, liveliest story, about an Afro-American, former-lesbian Chicago homicide detective who finds strange likenesses in three murders: The victims have lost half their blood, but despite their slashed throats, there's little of it in evidence—and all have terminal AIDS, though they sure didn't have it a week ago. Strong and satisfying, even when coasting.
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