NOCTURNAL by Mark Allen


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A horror debut sees a vampire cross paths with an undercover cop in a drug cartel.

Ex-Marine Rudy Valdez works as hired muscle for drug smuggler Guillermo “El Gecko” Calderon. Rudy patrols a San Diego dock one night, AK-47 in hand, to ensure a smooth meeting between El Gecko and wannabe kingpin Juanito Lobo. As the meeting opens aboard the Sulu Sea freighter, someone begins efficiently and brutally killing other cartel members patrolling the dock. During the meeting, Lobo points an AA-12 automatic shotgun at Jorge, El Gecko’s bodyguard, and claims he’s a cop. After the ensuing melee, Jorge encounters a pale, well-dressed man who says: “There is no need to continue your charade, Reginald.” This man, responsible for the nighttime slaughter, is a vampire, one with a specific interest in DS Reginald Downing. Reggie soon finds himself struggling to explain events to his colleagues, but the possibility that another cop outed him to the rival cartel is quite real. The vampire, meanwhile, is Edwin Thaddeus Marx, a stockbroker for Asian markets who’s holed up in Kensington. He’ll stalk pimps, murderers, and anyone else with darkness in their hearts. By sparing both Rudy and Reggie during his spree, however, he’s climbed into a complex web that just may trap him until morning comes. In this sleek horror noir, Allen hits vampire fans with a gut-shot of fabulous action and character work. Gore arrives by the bucket, as when Edwin “twisted with a savage grunt...ripping the esophagus out completely, rupturing both carotid arteries, and pulling out supporting musculature.” The author also sketches people and places in brisk, unforgettable strokes, including the first victim, meth-head T-Ball, and the storied K Street building the detectives work from. References to Bram Stoker and Dracula are likewise entertaining; Edwin’s journal entry says, “Stoker paid real vampires a disservice, due to his ignorance and lack of belief,” portraying them as one-dimensional and sex-crazed. Readers who have sampled vampire myths far and wide may be surprised by the depth of soul in Allen’s story.

A savagely good vampire tale that’s unafraid of its subject’s potential.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2017
Page count: 349pp
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2018


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