(Ballantine Books, $14.95, 429 pages, trade paperback; published in August 2004.)
In Fat White Vampire Blues, Andrew Fox introduced Jules Duchon, a vastly overweight New Orleans vampire with a secret past as a Nazi-fighting superhero. Bride of the Fat White Vampire continues where the first book left off, reuniting Jules with many of his friends and foes from the previous book and adding more characters to the cast.
The first book in the series established Fox's deft knack for combining genres, and Bride of the Fat White Vampire confirms it. This time around, Fox concocts a convoluted mystery in the hardboiled tradition of Raymond Chandler, explicitly perverts the Anne Rice brand of vampire fiction, and spices the plot with elements from James Whale's film Bride of Frankenstein.
Jules is forced to work with several of his enemies from the previous book as he is blackmailed into investigating the mutilation of young female vampires, the killings (by vampires) of popular black preachers, and how both of these cases connect with a controversial urban redevelopment project and the reappearance of an old friend he'd believed dead.
Bride of the Fat White Vampire is an entertaining romp, but it does suffer from sequelitis. Fox's first novel didn't shy away from dealing head-on with the ethics of Jules's life as a bloodsucking murderer and with difficult questions of race politics. This time around these issues are given token nods, while the violence and brutality are never real enough to hurt.
Fox loves his characters -- perhaps a bit too much. Fat White Vampire Blues had consequences, giving weight to the comedy, while Bride of the Fat White Vampire Fox, clearly setting up a series, ends too happily and too conveniently to be as convincing as its excellent predecessor.
Nevertheless, Bride of the Fat White Vampire does provide good laughs and exciting thrills.
Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction
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© Claude Lalumière 14 August 2004, 16 January 2005