Hard Boiled Vampire Killers
Dark Regions Press
Trade Paper, 218 pages, $18.95
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
A horror bromance is embraced in Hard Boiled Vampire Killers. In a variant of the lyrics to “Moon River,” here are “Two Drifters Off to Save the World.” One is of Asian descent, the other a redneck with characteristic bigoted baggage. These seemingly diverse fellows have something in common: Both are outsiders who dispatch vampires. One is a nerd (the Chinese-American, of course) who resides with his parents, and employs martial arts moves to snuff nocturnal nasties. His racist counterpart looks like a hypocritical loser – living off a vampire girlfriend, even though he slays her kind. Author Jim Gavin delights in dallying with the duo’s dialogue, which is acerbic and not at all politically correct. Given the context, it is quite funny. The author takes the often used storyline of bonding through a common goal, and enlivens it with raucous repartee and cultural comment. The result is a most entertaining riff on offbeat sidekicks.
The protagonists’ personalities and stories are unveiled in an unusual way. Ty, who deals in racial stereotypes, unfolds his tale in the first person. In the case of Ed, burdened with familial responsibility and legacy, the story shifts to third person/omniscient narrator. The literary device serves the plot line well since Ty is very focused on himself. He is a loner who feels no compunction regarding offing vampires while bedding and being abetted by one. Ed’s life is more expansive; he comes from a Chinese family with a long history. While rankling at his home life, he learns that lineage does have its perks.
Ty philosophizes that having a sanguinary lover is odd, “But in the dark, two lonely people are just two lonely people.” This romantic side surfaces again when he falls for a mysterious woman who leads him and Ed deeper into the realm of the supernatural. As Ed hones his inherent and inherited skills, Ty keeps smoking cigars and drinking a lot; and muses about the existence of God. Both guys are action hero brethren; combating vamps, zombies, and other evil entities with their own unique styles.
Hard Boiled Vampire Killers is about alliances formed under duress, and freaks and geeks uniting for a lofty purpose. Jim Gavin’s spin on the material possesses spunk and stamina in its verbal vigor, and fun fantastical frays. Ty and Ed are dynamic dudes with a mission against malevolence; and intend to return in a follow up book and keep up the good fight.
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