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The silliness quotient frequently exceeds toxic levels in this nevertheless entertaining debut about some New Orleans night people Anne Rice seems to have overlooked.

Newcomer Fox reveals his inspirations in epigraphs from Rice herself (mentioned in passing herein as “Agatha Longrain”) and John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. And his protagonist, centenarian-plus Jules Duchon, is a dead (sorry, undead) ringer for Toole’s Ignatius C. Reilly. You see, Jules, whose victims eat the world’s richest food, is a clinically obese vampire in desperate straits. He has lost his, uh, fulfilling job as a coroner’s assistant, his adipose “blood parent” Maureen (a.k.a. disco stripper “Round Robin”) has dumped him, Catholic guilt gnaws at him, a two-timing dame named Veronika, who packs garlic spray and holy water, has him in her sights, and jive-talking black vampire “Malice X” is down on Jules for “poaching” in X’s territory. When his house is torched, Jules, who moonlights (so to speak) as a cabdriver, enlists the aid of cross-dressing buddy Rory “Doodlebug” Richelieu (who’s both Jules’s creation and his mentor: don’t ask), shape-shifts as needed, enjoys an amorous encounter with a stray dog, engages Malice in a mock-epic showdown at the latter’s casino, and eventually gives Veronika exactly what she’s been asking for. This Blues strikes numerous discordant notes, but Jules is a highly companionable antihero, and Fox does stage such irresistible scenes as his fruitless interview with stiff-necked “high muckety-mucks in the undead community” and a wonderful confession scene in which Jules tells an understandably thunderstruck priest, “I ain’t exactly been the greatest Catholic the last eighty years or so.”

Exuberantly tasteless, and—here and there—almost as much fun to read as it probably was to write.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-345-46333-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003