A vampiric secret agent infiltrates a group of especially deadly vampire hunters in Carpenter’s (Why I Shouldn’t Work with a Werewolf, 2016, etc.) supernatural sequel.
Samuel Johnson’s fellow vampires are surprised that he’s back in Des Moines, Iowa, after bungling his last assignment for VATE (Vampires Against The Evil). The organization sent him to Colorado for “rehabilitation”—a place from which other agents have never returned. It turns out that the program doubles as a training course for potential “special agents,” and VATE leader Beryl gives Samuel his introductory special assignment: to infiltrate a particularly lethal batch of vampire-hunting humans. Usually, VATE agents protect humans against murderous vamps. Hunters can ordinarily be mind-controlled into submission, but this latest group has already killed a slew of vampires, including attendees at VATE meetings. It seems likely that another VATE enemy—a space alien—is leading the hunters, so Samuel goes undercover and joins the group to find the extraterrestrial among them. At the same time, he looks into recent massacres of humans that could be the work of feral vampires or others, known as Evil Ones. Samuel engages in combat with these baddies while trying to keep his true identity hidden. Carpenter’s diverting story, the third in a series, surrounds its recurring protagonist with new threats while maintaining high tension throughout. There’s still a fair amount of humor, though, as when an Evil One insists that a potential victim “be cooperative and die.” Samuel’s first-person narration is funny as well, but occasionally repetitive, as when he constantly derides humans for their inherent stupidity. That said, he also skips unnecessary details and recaps by explicitly stating he’s doing so (“I’ll spare you the details….”). Despite the violence during bloody confrontations, the story is largely free of visceral imagery and vulgarities. Readers won’t find identifying the alien to be difficult, but the ending does drop a bombshell or two.
An insouciant vampire narrator recounts an offbeat story filled with action and levity.