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Blood Red

by James A Moore

(Earthling Publications, $45, 331 pp, numbered hardback.)

Review by Gary Couzens

cover scanWe're 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.

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