Wednesday, August 13, 2008

“The Last Vampire” by Patricia Rosemoor & Marc Paoletti

Spawned of alchemy and blood, he was the last of a brutal, ancient line. Now he has just been reborn.

Deep in a Texas cave, the military unearths a five-hundred-year-old corpse, its desiccated flesh teeming with mysterious DNA that can transform mortals into beings of unimaginable power.

Captain Scott Boulder, leader of a Black Ops unit that has been endowed with these superhuman abilities, is among the first to benefit from the find. But when, with the help of a voodoo priestess, the creature is conjured to life, unleashing an ancient evil bent on reinstating its poisonous kind on earth, Scott knows he must return the monster to the grave. But this is no ordinary vampire. Once a brutal torturer in the Spanish Inquisition, it can bend the laws of science and magic in horrifying new ways.

Powerless to fight this evil alone, Scott grudgingly seeks the aid of reclusive anthropologist Leah Maguire, an expert in the mystical rituals of the past. To keep humanity from entering a new Dark Age, Scott and Leah will battle unspeakable horrors and will sacrifice everything they hold dear–perhaps even their own humanity–to destroy the last vampire.

Only a few chapters into The Last Vampire I found that I had to force myself to continue reading, which is never a good sign. It was not any one particular thing but a collection of factors. The writing is very stiff and unimaginative - almost plodding. A relationship develops very slowly between Scott and Leah but there is no demonstrated chemistry. Leah moans (and moans) in her inner dialogue about the earlier loss of her family to the very vampire they are hunting. This is I suppose meant to build empathy with her character but there are no significant scenes presented to show us why we should care about her lost family or her angst. Similar problems abound with Scott’s inner dialogue about his family and brother.

The premise of an elite black ops fighting force, comprised of men genetically modified by vampire DNA is interesting, however the story which is billed as a thriller lacks thrills. An early aircraft hijacking rescue and a later attack on the vampire are lacklustre. There are also too many holes in the portrayal of military procedure and practice to provide any real credibility. Similar to TV shows that feature huge organizations as a backdrop but you never see more then one office or a few people on screen at a time because there isn’t the budget–the world building lacks appropriate scope.

Other off-kilter things include the setting in New Orleans which seems to have been selected merely because one of the bad guys (a woman) is a voodoo priestess. But why would the military operate a covert elite military operation out of New Orleans using a vampire mummy found in Texas other then to justify the use of voodoo as a plot device?

On a return visit to the cave where the vampire was imprisoned, Leah and Scott recognize the markings used to restrain the vampire and from them identify the location of the church that was home base to whoever put the protections in place (why a priest from a New Orleans parish imprisoned a vampire in a cave in Texas is never explained). If it was so easy to do this why didn’t the military figure that out the first time around and investigate?

It is even revealed that Andre, the vampire of the title was sired by none other then Vlad Tepes or Dracula. I cringed. Depiction of the vampiric powers and voodoo is also pretty much cliché. As a final observation, I find that the cover blurb above is actually more exciting then the books itself. Apparently there is a sequel planned but if this is the start of a new series, I can’t recommend it.

Read the Prologue and Chapter 1.


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