My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”Death smiled---a boyish smile---through an old man’s eyes.
‘Welcome,’ he said.”
When you live in those Middle European countries like Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Serbia, you grow up hearing stories of monsters. The very air, the darkness, the looming mountains, and the shrieks... at the very heart of the night... that stirs people from a sound sleep with terror blooming in the midst of their waking nightmares, convinces even the most cynical of minds to believe that evil beings lurk in the shadows of their lives.
Andre Palatazin, a Los Angeles Detective, known in California by the more American name Andy, was born in Hungary. He would have grown up in Hungary except one night his father returned as one of those things he had went hunting for…
”Papa had said, ‘Watch my shadow.’”
Andy and his mother, fortunately, escaped to the city of Angels. They are far, far away from those nefarious creatures that turn a man’s spine to ice and a woman’s heart to glass. Palatazin is searching for a killer nicknamed by the press The Roach because he liked to stuff cockroaches in the mouths of his victims.
Palatazin is frustrated because his leads are just a handful of frayed, broken strings, and The Roach continues to thrive. Los Angeles is a city of victims. ”Most of the girls, hopeful starlets from every state in the country, were very pretty; perhaps they’d modeled once or twice or done bit parts or even starred in a skin flick or two, but now for a variety of reasons their luck had just turned bad. They were the throwaways, the tissues some agent, director, or disco smooth-talker had sneezed into and then tossed out with the trash. All of them potential victims.”
For The ROACH.
He changes his Modus Operandi. Wanna-be starlets keep disappearing, but their corpses are not being found. The stress of trying to catch this serial killer, who is scaring the bejesus out of people, is starting to catch up with Palatazin.
Little does he know that the weeks he has spent trying to catch The Roach will be looked back on with something akin to fondness. The Roach is a monster, but he is a monster we can wrap our heads around. He is about to be eclipsed...by a plague of monsters.
Palatazin’s nightmares from Hungary have finally caught up with him.
”A hand and arm, as bone-white as marble and veined with blue, slithered out….”
What the hell is that?
”He pulled the sheet free from their faces...[They were] entwined together. Their faces were as white as carved stone, but what made Silvera almost cry out with terror was the fact that he could see their eyes through the thin, almost clear membranes of their closed eyelids. The eyes seemed to be staring right at him; they filled him with cold dread. He forced himself to reach down and feel the chests for heartbeats.
Their hearts weren’t beating. He felt for a pulse, found nothing.”
I’ve read a reasonable number of vampire books, and there are some good ones. I tend to like the ones that depict vampires the way they would be if they existed, feral, ferocious animals. The debonair, handsome, charming vampire that makes some women’s hearts go pitter patter and makes some men want to upchuck all over the plush leather seats of Stephenie Meyer’s Mercedes Benz is not the type of anemic monster you are going to find in this book.
These monsters...well…They Thirst.
Palatazin doesn’t have to be convinced that the “mythical” creatures from the nightmares of writers is real. He knows they are real, but convincing everyone else before it is too late is like asking for people to believe in the Easter Bunny. A man could be locked up with The Ghostbusters faster than he can say,...but really I’m not crazy. Unfortunately, it isn’t like Andy can laugh maniacally from his prison cell window as humanity is eviscerated and replaced by an army of fanged goons. Palatazin, for the people he loves and even humanity at large, has to find a way to to stop Prince Conrad Vulkan and his plan to subjugate the human race.
Meanwhile he can’t afford to lose his mind.
he won’t be alone.
”There are four who would destroy you. They approach even now, as you lie dreaming of glory. Four pieces---one is a knight, another is a bishop, a third is a rook, and the fourth is a pawn.”
Can they beat the gathering storm that threatens to turn daylight into perpetual night?
This book was published in 1981 and is a perfect example of those epic, somewhat bloated, horror books that are actually hefty enough to bash in the skull of a vampire, or swat the fanny of a recalcitrant werewolf, or put a large hole in the ectoplasm of an annoying ghost. I, for one, enjoyed the ride that Robert McCammon took me on. This was a bit of 1980s nostalgia that actually made me shudder more than once...those entwined, cocooned, hibernating beasts are still haunting my daymares and nightmares. *teeth chattering shiver of impending doom*
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