Awhile back, a friend of mine (who has apparently read most of the same vampire books as me) said that she preferred the stories with the "romantic" vampires, as opposed to "vampires are evil and I'm the one slaying them" sorts of stories. It hadn't occurred to me to have a preference either way, but perhaps after reading this one I get it a bit.
The plot: in 1915 Baron Rudulfo Zginski is living in a small town in Wales and snacking on the population discreetly when he gets suspected as a vampire. Z (I'm just gonna abbreviate that) agrees to a vampire trial, using the usual methods of vampire testing, and all goes well...until the prosecution notes he isn't breathing, and soon that leads to impaling. Sixty years later (1975), a researcher gets ahold of the body, pulls out the knife, and...uh-oh. Z realizes that he needs to get up on how life has been going lately, and tracks down the lameass local vampire pack to ask them what's up. However, he knows far more about vampirism than they do because they learned it out of movies (Z walks around in daylight just fine, thanks), and has the mental powers to control anyone he wants to, including the vampire pack when he wants. However, a member of the pack recently died in a suspicious manner (his corpse didn't age the 10 years that he spent as a vampire, leaving a 17-year-old corpse that looked just how he had ten years ago, minus the blood), which gets the local hotshot coroner's attention. She decides to track down whatever killed the kid like that... and things go extremely goddamned badly for her. And then they figure out that the drug the kid took makes a vampire extremely depressed and uninterested in feeding, so Z is on the hunt for whoever makes it.
I don't know what to make of this book. There really aren't any heroes in it or anyone to root for. There's not too many humans in the book, and it really doesn't go well for anyone other than the guy who staked Z in the first place. The vampires are unadulterated evil in this one--screw the "vegetarian vampire" nonsense. When Z decides to be kindly and not immediately drain someone, he makes her his slave. (Heck, he does this to everyone in one way or another.) Even Mark, who seems to be the den father/voice of reason to the vampire pack before Z comes along, turns out to be bad. Adding to the fun, vampirism gets contracted if one drinks from you and kills you and then doesn't take the proper precautions to prevent it, and it can pass on somewhat even if you weren't killed...which gets ugly.
So, who do you root for in this story? Do you root for the vampires to continue on, slaughtering people when they don't have to and mind-raping everyone? Do you root for the poor humans who try to put up a fight and just can't even do it before the vampires win? Do you CARE if Z and co. find out who's manufacturing the vampire drug, because you kinda want them taken out? Who the hell is the hero? Do we even have one?
This is a well-written story, but I can't say I got any pleasure out of reading it. I don't think it's a bad idea to write about vampires being bad, but I just don't know what to make of it, and felt depressed after finishing it. (The last page, OH GOD.)
Two and a half stars.