STAINLESS by Todd Grimson


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 ``When I'm dead, there'll be no stain on our love,'' Garbo tells Armand as her eyes close forever in Camille, and much the same can be said by Justine, the fated vampiress here, as she and her human lover, Keith, go up in a Leibestod of sunlight and darkness. The best vampire fiction seems to have reached the cutting edge of the avant garde, appearing in fearlessly searching prose undreamed of by mainstream writers. Thus in his second novel (after Within Normal Limits, 1987, not reviewed), catching a glimmer from Poppy Z. Brite's Hi-Neon early novels, horror writer Grimson shifts quickly into Electric Purple and, without a qualm, deliquesces at times into deliriously hallucinogenic unpunctuated paragraphs that seek the sensuality of the Beyond. Set in Los Angeles and rife with Hollywood Gothic period detail from the turn of the century forward, the story is densely overpeopled with Vanity Fair types and rock groupies, while its flow of rapid, sharp-edged detail in the history of a star-haunted mansion seems lifted by wax impression from E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime. Boyfriend Keith cares for Justine's coffin by day and drives her about by night in search of nourishment. He's a famed but now disabled rock guitarist whose earlier lover, Renata, committed suicide, which moved her wealthy fiancÇ Gilberto to have Keith's fingers crushed by a car door. Back in the 1920s or so, Justine once drank the blood of silent-screen actor David Henry Reid, who was later chained up in a coffin for 20 years in a secret room and now wants revenge on Justine. David's revenge forms the plot here, but it's more like a vein leading into the main artery of Keith's love, melting centuries-old Justine's icy reserve. But too late . . . An erotic confetti-shower that leaves you thrilled and unclean.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-06-105321-X
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1995