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Rich, stylish, turn-of-the-century vampire spy novel set in England, Paris, Vienna, Constantinople, and on the trains tying the le Carr‚-ish spy networks together: a sequel to Hambly's memorable Those Who Hunt the Night (1988). Hambly at last outdoes early Rice for fine writing while avoiding Rice's light lavender hand. Every page shows immense research and attention to Continental textures of life nearly a century ago as WW I rumbles in the far distance. In the first novel, Hambly showed us Edwardian England though the eyes of ex-spy James Asher and young wife Lydia, and through the undead eyes of London's oldest vampire, the Spanish aristocrat Don Simon Ysidro. That initial installment focused on a monstrous mutant vampire who was killing all the vampires of London and drinking their blood. Now the plot grows into parallel lines, with James and Lydia apart and traveling separately with vampires toward an eventual rejoining. The two plotlines move like moonlit chapters by Sax Rohmer (with vampires replacing Fu Manchu and the Yellow Peril), the story of James chasing vampire spies alternating with episodes from a Louisa May Alcott thriller about Lydia. Vampires, it seems, are as territorial as birds and get highly upset if a London bloodsucker invades the Paris or Vienna feeding grounds and willy-nilly brings on police activity after promiscuously sucking dry improper victims. James discovers that England's enemies have hired vampire double agents, including the Earl of Ernchester, now a vampire, who has left London for the Continent accompanied by top Hungarian vampire Ignace Karolyi, seemingly intent on selling his vampire abilities of getting in and out of places like mist through a keyhole. Lydia, however, discovers that James is in great danger and, protected by Don Ysidro, sets out to save him. The climax: a tragicomic opera among woman-hating, top-lofty Turkish vampires. Pages to read gold-stained by lamplight.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine