Anne Rice biographer Ramsland immerses herself in the underground society of vampires (from role-players to actual blood-drinkers) in order to form some general theories about vampire culture. Spurred on by her own longtime fascination with vampire fiction and the mysterious disappearance of vampire-cult investigator Susan Walsh in 1996, Ramsland began her own probe into the various forms of the vampire lifestyle. It's not clear whether Ramsland had any specific focus when she began her study other than solving the Walsh mystery and indulging her own romantic fascination with vampire legends. What develops, however, through meticulously recounted conversations with people deeply entrenched in the vamp scene and through a heavy dose of Ramsland's own philosophical musings about these encounters, is a voyeuristic ogling of an alternative ""and at times morally deviant"" culture and the author's realization of her own almost perverse infatuation with it. Ramsland becomes deeply involved with the vampire society and credibly offers comprehensive information about the rituals, role-playing games, and communities (both online and off) of the culture she's exploring. And with her academic background (she teaches philosophy at Rutgers) as a guide, Ramsland extends her exploration into various psychological and philosophical realms ranging from healthy fantasy play to personality disorders and satanic worship. And yet, for all that, the book has no specific purpose: No hypothesis is proposed and no answers are given. The interviews are intriguing--even if visceral and at times grotesque--but without a frame of purpose, the book is merely a collection of oddly interesting stories. Perhaps this is the way Ramsland wants it, ""in keeping with the secretive mystique of vampire legends,"" but this absence leaves the book a bit, well, lifeless.