(Earthling Publications, $45, 331 pp, numbered hardback.)
in Black Stone Bay. It's a well-heeled town on the coast, the kind of
place where everyone -- outwardly at least -- is happy with their lot
in life. Then young teenagers begin to disappear ...
James A. Moore has published seven previous novels, one of them a Buffy
tie-in. Blood Red is a slick, fast-moving but insubstantial vampire
novel that has a very large influence overshadowing it. It's an obvious
one: Stephen King. We have the small town setting (in Rhode Island instead
of Maine), the large cast, and the classic horror-story structure with
hints of wrongness poking up like weeds before the author goes for an
all-out onslaught. The novel reads like a screenplay in waiting, with
short scenes and each chapter divided into subsections every time we
change viewpoint. Many of the characters are two-dimensional (predatory
policeman, unfaithful husband, vicious pimp, and so on) and not all
of them convince. Two ten-year-old boys seem much too knowing for their
age. Many of the cast end up dead in various gory ways. However, a few
do come to the forefront. Maggie, a high-schooler turned call-girl (to
pay her way through college), seems a little too much like a male fantasy
figure, and a subplot where she has to seduce five local churchmen seems
gratuitous for its importance to the plot. There's also Ben, school
nerd and part-time hacker, who harbours an unrequited crush on Maggie.
And Jason Soulis, the obscenely wealthy owner of a large house on the
hill, is exactly who you suspect he is as soon as you meet him -- and
as Maggie finds out, he's supremely good in bed. But of course.
Then there are the two cops, Richard Boyd and Danny Holdstedter, who
don't actually appear until a third of the way through and tend to function
as comic relief as well as further the point. Moore seems overfond of
them and their profane banter, to the point of self-indulgence. I wouldn't
be surprised if they got their own series in due course.
Don't get me wrong, despite its faults I did enjoy reading Blood
Red. It moves quickly, written in efficient but characterless prose,
and packs in enough sex and violence to keep most readers turning the
pages. But it's fast food fiction, and starts fading from the memory
as soon as you've finished it.
Earthling's limited edition of 500 numbered hardcovers is signed by
Moore and has an introduction by Simon Clark and cover and signature
page artwork by Edward Miller. A fifteen-copy lettered and slipcased
hardcover, signed by Moore, Clark and Miller, is sold out.