Adrienne Barbeau,
Love Bites
(Thomas Dunne, 2010)

Here's the deal: according to Adrienne Barbeau, who certainly knows her way around the movie and TV business, Hollywood is rife with vampires -- all of the leading movie stars are vampires; they photograph well and just light up the screen. Agents are werewolves and studio heads are just as often vampires themselves.

These creatures of the night operate in broad daylight and are immune to garlic, crosses and the rest of the defenses we find in vampire lore. It's stuff they made up for the movies and books to mislead the public. Actually, they can move about as freely as we can and are capable of leading perfectly ordinary lives. They only difference is they don't eat food or drink alcohol, choosing to feed on different stuff.

They also tend to war on each other. Anger a Hollywood player and he just might turn into a werewolf and attack you. Before you know it, your pack will be battling for its life against another one.

This is the world Barbeau gives us in Love Bites, and it's a world you'll have a good time visiting. Her heroine, Osvanna Moore, who appeared in Barbeau's first book, Vampyres of Hollywood (written with Michael Scott, no relation to the reviewer) is a 450-year-old scream queen, an actress who owns and operates her own studio, specializing in horror films. In the opening chapter, she is attacked by a werewolf and then the mutilated body turns up, an occurance that reunites her with Detective Peter King, who also appeared in the first book.

It appears that the serial killer they fought in Vampyres is back and they cannot tell the public that the serial killer really hasn't returned because the killer was a vampire that they destroyed. Who or what are they chasing? And why has Orson Welles transformed himself into a rat? He is a member of Osvanna's pack, as is silent movie star Mary Pickford, and '40s heartthrob Tyrone Power. All of these people are thought to be dead but, since they're vampires, they have to pretend to be dead while still living, which leads to the funniest scene in the book where they all compete for a job opening in Osvanna's studio.

As I said, you'll have a good time with Love Bites. It's a quick read and a good one. If there's a problem, it's with the repetition. Barbeau alternates narrators; Osvanna narrates a chapter and then Peter narrates the next, which means we often read the same information twice, once from the vampire's perspective and once from the detective's. Keep in mind that what you're reading is an entertainment, rather than a candidate for the Great American Novel, and you won't be bothered by any of that.

book review by
Michael Scott Cain

23 October 2010

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