Stalking the Vampire: A Fable of Tonight
by Mike Resnick
Published by Pyr
268 pages, 2008
Get it? Got it. Good.
Reviewed by Andi Shechter
One of the moments I dread at parties is when I’m trapped with a bunch of people and someone says something punny. In my crowd, this means that for the next 15 minutes, everyone will try and one up the punster, and there will be no getting out alive. I head for the exit as soon as it starts. I mean, I’ve got amazingly clever and intelligent friends, but this form of humor bores me after about, well, two minutes. Or less.
Mike Resnick’s Stalking the Vampire is like that. A sequel to Stalking the Unicorn, a book published close to 20 years ago and reissued here in trade paperback by Pyr along with this new book. Resnick’s book is funny for a while and then you get it. And you get it and you get it.
Had I not discovered funnier writers in the last 20 years, I might appreciate Stalking the Vampire more. It’s got a good set-up and yes, lots of humorous bits, but Resnick just beats the thing to death.
John Justin Mallory is a private detective in an alternate New York, one filled with goblins and demons and evil things of all types. He’s adjusted to it, found a partner in his detective business and has made a life for himself. His partner, Winnifred Carruthers, has a nephew who, it appears, just came over on a boat with a vampire. Rupert isn’t a vampie, at least not yet, but you know how that goes. And soon the nephew is dead and Mallory pursues the bad guy. And it’s Halloween.
Resnick provides Mallory with several sidekicks and they all have their role to play: the cowardly vampire named Bats; the dragon who writes private eye novels that never sell and are a collection of dumb clichés (the sexy secretary, the hero getting beat up and bedding beautiful “dames”) and Felina, a sort of human cat. I liked Felina the best -- for the first 100 or so pages. Then her bit got tired. Yeah, yeah, she wants to eat everything and thinks she should be petted all the time. Yep. (She’s definitely related to the cat from the British television show Red Dwarf.) But the repetition simply doesn’t wear well. It gets tired. I wanted the book to end about 50 pages before it ended because it simply didn’t offer anything new.
There’s funny stuff here, from obvious-but-funny jokes (“Where do you find Vampires? The Vampire State Building, of course” ) to nods to science fiction (a character named Dr. Seldon Hari). But it just seemed like I was reading the same stuff after a while. We meet a goblin who tries to sell Mallory something he doesn’t want. The goblin offers five different things, then Mallory tells him to beat it. The cat climbs a tree and jumps on Mallory’s back demanding food. The dragon claims that his hero would do something different at this point. They go down several streets and find a building with a funny name and ask questions about the vampire they’re seeking. Repeat.
Maybe if I hadn’t spent the last 10 or so years reading Terry Pratchett, Esther Friesner, Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde I would have enjoyed this book more. But I began thinking “I got it, now move on.” And we didn’t move on, because Resnick seemed to be having lots of fun just where he was. I think Resnick had a great time writing Stalking the Vampire and wrote until he was done. If you loved Stalking the Unicorn and don’t get what I’m saying about those other authors, you’re probably going to love this book and will think I’m nuts not to get it. I sure hope so because there’s fun stuff here. It just went on too long for me. | August 2008
Andi Shechter has been a publicist, chat host, interviewer, convention-planner, essayist and reviewer. She lives in Seattle with far too many books, an old-but-cute purple computer, not enough soft toys (including a small but select hedgehog and gorilla collection), many figure skating videotapes and an esoteric collection of hot sauces. There's a Hugo Award on her mantelpiece which belongs to her partner, cartoonist and artist Stu Shiffman.