An English private eye,
with help from his vampire friends, tries to stop a serial killer targeting
college girls in Dalzell’s (The Last Dream Before You Die, 2012) latest,
the second in a supernatural thriller series.
When a female student dies from a heroin overdose, Detective Constable Brian Nolan calls in West Yorkshire PI Jack Bone. Jack, a former cop, has the resources to find what Nolan believes is a serial killer, since four other girls of similar age and background have died the same way over the last seven years. Plus, Jack has a distinct advantage: He’s pals with a family of the Nosferatu—“immortals from which stem the vampire legends.” While dodging assassination attempts (retribution from his copper days), Jack learns of the Candyman, an urban legend about a man who, with the help of drugs, promises college-age girls the path to “ultimate knowledge.” After the PI seems to save the Candyman’s most recent victim just in time, he may have a witness to lead him to the killer—if Jack can keep her alive long enough. Dalzell’s multigenre novel skillfully fuses action and the supernatural, best exemplified by a set of twins, vampire Mina and human Lucy, who’s also Jack’s intern. Mina fights with an apparently boundless hypnotic ability, while Lucy—an almost-200-year-old immortal whose Nosferatu genes aren’t “switched on”—excels with basic fisticuffs: A thug who stupidly puts his hand on her winds up with a broken jaw and fewer teeth. Despite Jack’s profession, there’s very little in the way of a detective story, as Jack is too dependent on his vampire partners; even Stanislav, who works for Eugenie (Mina and Lucy’s great-grandmother), dispatches gangsters gunning for Jack and does some research for the Candyman case. Still, Jack’s determination is unparalleled, and his casual acceptance of the Nosferatus’ incredible powers makes the paranormal seem practical, maybe even possible. For example, in the book’s best scene, Mina walks Jack through his own honeymoon memory while, in reality, Jack undergoes a particularly painful experience: “I brought you into this simulacrum by hypnosis to let you escape from what we had to do to get you through the narrows,” she tells him. There’s an abundance of references to Dalzell’s previous book, and the author relays plenty for clarification, such as the origin of Jack’s relationship to the vamps, without excessively outlining the entire story.
An enjoyable, low-key supernatural tale with invigorating, unpretentious vampires.