Strieber’s vampire series, begun with 1981’s The Hunger, meets a serious obstacle: tiredness.
One hears the treadmill turning as Strieber pounds through his paces, rarely raising our heartbeat. Even The Last Vampire (2001), though well-reviewed here, showed strange lapses of memory, as if Strieber had failed to reread The Hunger before writing his sequel 20 years later. With luck, this latest installment will end the trilogy. Here, Strieber weaves three plots into one strand. Lilith, before she went to Splitsville with Adam, was apparently a vampire and now has reawakened from a very long sleep—she’s been fed for a thousand years by a vampiric servant who brings her humans. Was Adam a fellow vampire as well? Clearly not—though Hebrew lore says Lilith fed on Abel. Now she finds herself startled by modern civilization, electric light, and four-wheeled wagons that move by unseen power. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Leonore “Leo” Patterson, blooded at 18 by the late Miriam Blaylock, is 36, still looks 18, and has become a world phenomenon as a pop diva of tragic elegies. Leo herself feels tragic, wishes she could fast-forward into the future, when there’d be a cure for vampirism. She’s under surveillance by Paul Ward, a CIA agent who has killed hundreds of highly intelligent vampires, including Miriam, with whom Paul, himself part-vampire, has had a son, Ian, now 18, sullen, rebellious, and slowly finding himself consumed by hungers that may lead to Paul having to kill his own son. Best chapter: Lilith stowed away on a Libyan oil tanker bound for New York, with a man ejaculating at the sight of her preparing to shower. To be sure, at three or four more places the story gathers energy and Strieber hits his stride, especially when the incredibly beautiful Lilith enters Manhattan and mouths here’s-looking-at-you-kid Bogart-English she’s learned from television. And when Ian falls into bed with Leo and Lilith in Egypt, well, lubricity rises.