Karl Larew is well known for the depth and breadth of his knowledge in the field of military history, both in academic works and in historical fiction.
Well, as you might imagine, Bad Vampires has nothing to do with world politics and war, or even reality on the home front. Rather, this versatile author has chosen to entertain us by delving into the practices of the netherworld of 19th-century vampirism, BUT, as it exists in the modern world—the difference being that, today, there are both Bad Vampires and Good Vampires. This is a modern fictional account, and one designed to make you chortle instead of scream. It is a hilarious and refreshingly fun read!
Rather than a single locale in Transylvania, the vampires in this tale travel from New York to our nation’s capital and its Virginia suburbs, then Hollywood, and on to Hong Kong, and back and forth, in multiple trips, logging who knows how many thousands of miles.
The 19th-century vampire’s vicious bite and suck method has evolved into a variety of means for the nourishment of vampires. Among Bad Vampires, the process can still end in, well, the end for the blood donor. Good Vampires, however, take care not to let this happen. Further, the New York Association of Good Vampires has rules regarding the infliction of mortal wounds by other means (pistols seem to be the most popular). In any case, Good Vampires are the winners, Bad Vampires are the losers. Bad Vampires have no imagination and can’t put a bullet in the side of a barn, whereas Good Vampires are ingenious in their strategies and never miss a target, even with one hand tied behind them.
This tale is either carried along or interrupted by outrageously corny puns, double entendres, and other linguistic contrivances designed to tickle the characters and amuse the readers. Larew obviously enjoyed drawing these from old TV shows: Bad Vampire Elmer wants to make a movie about vampires in New York City—”Sucks and the City” it gets labelled by a Good Vampire; another Good Vampire calls the Head Vampire about a new idea. The CHIEF tells him, “GET SMART! I could say that 99 times and still not have said it enough!” Do any readers remember “Henry Aldrich” (Hen-reeeeeeee) on the radio? No? Never mind.
It’s hard to develop the character of a vampire. In this story, some are good and some are bad. Protagonist Lance Blodgett is a good one and smart as well. In his day life, he’s an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, specializing in East European folklore. He has a tender streak and loving heart, which he very soon gives to Carol Binghamton, who isn’t a vampire.
Carol, a computer programmer, finds herself reciprocating Lance’s feelings. She even offers him breakfast, if he’ll bite her where it won’t show. Lance tells her that biting is “too painful and leaves a big bruise. We use little spring-powered lancets, like diabetics use for blood sugar tests.” She kindly offers him a rump.
I wouldn’t want to spoil the story for you—just give you a taste that hopefully will tempt you to try it yourself. You might say, as Lance did after breakfast, “Oh, very good—[it has] a sort of tangy je ne sais quoi.”