Brite follows up her electrifying debut, Lost Souls (1992), with a longer work whose horrors, while more focused, have their energies dimmed by fine writing. Set once again in Missing Mile, North Carolina--where in Lost Souls the redneck vampires kept blood in whiskey bottles--this second novel gives its soul-sucking antagonist a psychological reality based less on mad variations on Bram Stoker than on a family tragedy. Back in 1972, famed underground cartoonist Robert ``Bobby'' McGee, a figure clearly based on the R. Crumb whose images stamped the hallucinogenic generation with Mr. Natural and other disrupters of the status quo, fell into writer's block and bludgeoned to death all of his family but his five-year-old son Trevor. Now, having left his orphanage and found his own way as a cartoonist of underground demons, Trevor returns to Missing Mile to find out why his father failed to kill him. He moves into the still empty house of death, where the lights work with no power source, and finds himself deep in the mysteries of Birdland, a psychic state emerging from the alto sax of Charlie Parker, where Bobby McGee's ghost wanders in limbo. Meanwhile, virgin Trevor falls in love with Zachary Bosch, a 19-year-old computer hacker on the run from the Secret Service, who moves into the house of haunted blood with Trevor and experiences Boschian visions. Woven throughout are ties to Parker tunes and Zach's new role as vocalist with the Gumbo rock band at the Sacred Yew. Climax comes with Trev and Zach entering the psychic cartoon of Birdland together via psilocybin.... Brite strives for the explosive lyricism of Lost Souls in rich background descriptions that here bulk out her pages but fail to intensify them. The R. Crumb echoes deliver brilliantly. That there is a Brite future never doubt.