This tangy second go-round for Fox’s quarter-ton vampire gives readers a run for their money at telling the bloodsuckers from the leeches.
Having blown himself into 187 white rats at the end of Fat White Vampire Blues (2003), New Orleans vampire Jules Duchon is gathered by his friend Doodlebug Richelieu and reassembled (mostly; he’s missing a critical element of the male anatomy) into the mountainous undead he once was. The High Krewe of Vlad Tepes, an arrogant and wealthy company of Eastern European vampires living outside New Orleans, wants Duchon to find whoever is mutilating members of their association. Duchon comes into contact with a wide array of savory and unsavory characters—and finely described slices of New Orleans—allowing Fox to throw jabs and sling darts. Says Doodlebug of his new home: “California is different from the rest of the country. A combination of widespread Wiccanism and Hollywood liberalism means that blood-drinking is not as stigmatized as it would be here.” Sass and smarts are also in his bag of tricks, whether he’s poking fun at Internet searches or driving home a little social commentary on racism and greed. The plot is intricate enough to be more mystery than horror tale, with a complicated land scam that turns out to be something of a red herring, while grave tampering, lost loves, new loves, rotten apples, and morality plays are all kept aloft in sensible procession. Then the story accelerates into a mad whirligig, with Duchon’s dead mentor reappearing, his 40-year-dead mother reappearing (with his penis in tow), and a bride of Frankenstein (his mother wants her to be the bride of Duchon) appearing. Centrifugal forces could easily take the story down to crash and burn, but Fox commands the pyrotechnics and pilots to a sweet landing.
A sprawling comedy of horrors, the possibility of its spilling over into a third manifestation certainly welcome.