by Mike Resnick



269/$25.00/August 2008

Stalking the Vampire
Cover by Dan Dos Santos

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

John Justin Mallory is Mike Resnick’s mundane detective who found himself thrust into a world of magical creatures in the novel Stalkings the Unicorn. Still trapped in this alternative Manhattan, Mallory has found himself with a case of vampires on the wildest night of the year, Halloween, in Stalking the Vampire.

His adventure begins with the appearance of Rupert, his partner’s nephew. On a trip over from Europe, Rupert apparently had a run-in with a vampire and is now in danger of becoming undead himself. Mallory and his partner, Winnifred, take it upon themselves to chase down Rupert’s hemoimbiber in an attempt to stave off Rupert’s transformation. The two split up, Mallory taking along Felina, the office cat-girl, and the novel follows Mallory’s tour of this new, and different, New York.

The novel focuses on Mallory’s exploration and interaction with this strange New York and its denizens. He is not a hard-fisted detective, much to the disappointment of “Scaly Jim” Chandler, a Raymond Chandler wannabe novelist who hooks up with Mallory to help solve the case and research his next novel. Mallory is also accompanied by Bats McGuire, a cowardly, blood-averse vampire who acts as Mallory’s guide in a New York similar to, but different from, the one Mallory grew up in.

And most of Stalking the Vampire does not have the action “Scaly Jim” would have included. Resnick’s Mallory supplies the link to reality, asking questions, following up on leads, and acting as not only an everyman, but also as a real detective. The inclusion of the oddities of the world, however, offset what could be a straightforward detective procedural.

The other thing that sets Stalking the Vampire apart from a straight forward procedural is the humor. Resnick fills the book with a silliness that is neither satire or parody, but simply a fun look at the hard-boiled detective genre. Resnick is not writing great literature with the John Justin Mallory series, begun in Stalking the Unicorn and to be continued in Stalking the Dragon, but rather a fun series of light reads. In this, he succeeds admirably.

In fact, Resnick does more than just succeed at writing a light-hearted romp. He also addresses issues of whether someone acting in accordance with the dictates of their innate nature makes their activities when following their nature a crime. Mallory is more interested in seeing justice is served to everyone than seeing an arrest made.

Stalking the Vampire, however, is not a book to read when you’re looking for deep, hidden meaning, but rather it is a book that provides an entertaining escapism into a colorful, vibrant New York filled with creatures who sadly don’t exist in our own mundane world.

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