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Kemske (The Virtual Boss, 1993, etc.) continues his uneven audit of latter-day corpocracy with a bloody good fable that equates modern management with vampirism. Norman, the nebbishy but dedicated head of Human Resources at Biomethods, Inc., is shocked to learn that his faltering company has been entrusted to the not-so-tender mercies of a turnaround specialist known as Pierce. He'd also be scandalized if he realized his new boss is a vampire, but Norman's by-the-book allegiance to office procedures doesn't admit to deviant, let alone paranormal, possibilities. All too soon, however, he's overtaken by events. In the course of the convulsive makeover, the usually abstemious Pierce has been feeding compulsively on the help. An ageless charmer of unknown origins, Pierce learned the executive trade in the service of the Montgolfier brothers (of ballooning fame), Talleyrand, and in England's dark, satanic textile mills during the 1800s. His on-the-job training in regicidal Paris and the brutish industrial precincts of Manchester (detailed in alternating chapters) provides an almost rational counterpoint to the surreal goings-on at the doomed Biomethods. The astute undead demon perceives that evil is a human construct developed to help people avoid responsibility for their behavior; he also concludes that mankind has but one permanent institution: commerce. But for all his insight, Pierce is unhappy in his latest post, a dissatisfaction leading to a calamitous loss of control. After a series of in-house deaths, Norman finally understands that Pierce is up to something more sinister than increasing his department's paperwork. He finally rises to the occasion, rescuing his careerist wife, a potential victim of the silver-tongued fiend, and confronting an uneasy Pierce--who, at the close, is off in search of a more congenial enterprise, leaving Biomethods a dead loss. A wonderfully ambiguous and deliciously wicked tale leavened by humor (to borrow Mad magazine's felicitous phrase) in a jugular vein.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1995
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Catbird