The annual October horror read continues with John Steakley’s Vampire$. Steakley (1951-2010) was not a prolific writer. He had two novels to his credit. The other is the well thought of science fiction novel Armor (1984).
Vampires was first a Roc/New American Library trade paperback in late 1990. The mass market paperback followed in 1992. There were two more mass market printings (1998 and 2002) and trade paperback in 2008.
The plot is about a team of vampire hunters working for the Vatican. The novel starts with the team clearing out a nest of vampires in Indiana. Things were not quite right as the main vampire came out first instead of the “goons.” It all goes wrong when most of the team is wiped out that night while partying by a master vampire.
Leader Jack Crow barely escaped and proceeds to put together a new team after a meeting at the Vatican. There is then a lot of back story of him meeting Felix while doing Drug Enforcement Administration work in Mexico.
The mayor of Cleburne, TX hired the team to wipe out a group of vampires that have attacked the town. This part of the novel is great with crossbows using harpoons linked to winches that pull out the vampires into daylight. Felix has joined the team, he is a pistolero armed with silver bullets. Silver bullets don’t kill vampires but they hurt and distract the vampire while the team attempts to use a crossbow on it.
There is more backstory about Davette, a Dallas socialite who claims to be a journalist. She is under the control of a master vampire.
There is cat and mouse with the master vampire and a final showdown. That part of the novel movest fast.
I would give Vampire$ a 3 out of 5 rating. The prose is fast moving but it struck me as rather glib in sections. The action scenes are great. I like Nightblood and Robert McCammon’s They Thirst better. Vampire$ is sort of a proto-Monster Hunters International. There is less gun porn than what Larry Correia delivers.
John Carpenter made Vampire$ into a movie in 1998 which I have not seen. If you are in the mood for a quick moving vampire hunter novel and have read Nightblood and They Thirst, give Vampire$ a try. Why hasn’t They Thirst been made into a movie?