Angel of Vengeance
Trevor O. Munson
Trade Paper, 240 pages, $9.95
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
Angel of Vengeance is a story of resurrection. Not only do some of its dead rise again, but the book itself is an example of exhumation. The narrative is the basis for the television series Moonlight; a cancelled show that had a dedicated fan base. As a result of its cult status, and the pervasive pop culture presence of vampires, the novel got resuscitated. And what a delightful disinterment it is. Author Trevor O. Munson’s refreshing refleshing of the theme of the sardonic sanguinary sleuth is worth the wait. It is a springboard concept for the subsequent series, rather than a template. Both mediums focus on the central character, but the book hones in on a more prominent Raymond Chandler mystery vibe. The unearthed yarn is a harmonious hybrid of horror and crime fiction.
The detective, Mick Angel works in Los Angeles. Despite his hematic hankerings, Mick has a code of ethics: He singles out the bad guys for sustenance and killing; emphasis on “bad” and “guys.” His aim is to not harm kids or women. While his values are admirable, his weakness for good-looking females challenges this resolution. It was love, after all, that changed him from human to vampire: “She bent and kissed me with lips as soft and cold and red as refrigerated cherry gelatin. She moaned. Her fangs grew like twin erections around my probing tongue. Weak with love and sex and fear and death, I gave myself over to her and when the bite finally came it felt like the angry word of God.”
The latest lady to inflame his passion is a burlesque dancer who employs him to find her missing sister. Angel cannot resist his client’s ripe voluptuousness and redheaded beauty: “Her hair looks like spun blood in the moonlight; so lovely it makes me salivate.” Dracula and private eye Philip Marlowe converge in the persona of Angel.
The tale alternates between the 1940s, when the protagonist is turned into a blood sucker, and present day. It parallels the dangerous attributes of Mick’s paramours of each period. These gals are major femmes fatales; determined and deadly dames. The supernatural shamus finds his libido taking command of elements of the investigation. When confronted with such lethal lovelies, the gun play is equally literal and metaphorical. A moral high ground is reached; but the ascent is a tough climb.
Trevor O. Munson takes the reader on a wondrous walk down mean streets. The thugs are threatening, the babes bewitching, and the private dick is arch and arcane. In Angel of Vengeance, Munson gets the genre blending just right: The banter is smart; the sense of atmosphere is palatable. Hard boiled grit and the uncanny marvelously meld in the tale. Buried for too long, this novel deserves a life of its own.