The Vampire Hunters
Scott M. Baker
Pill Hill Press
Trade Paper, 248 pages, $14.99
Review by Sheila M. Merritt
Washington, D.C.: Domain of bloodsuckers. Honest to badness vampires are infesting the nation’s capital. Acting sans scruples, keeping nasty secrets. A political allegory? In Scott M. Baker’s The Vampire Hunters, sanguinary sorts stalk the streets of Uncle Sam. Taking a bite out of the local population and transforming their prey into either mindless acolytes, or grooming them as potential power players. Parallels with politicos? Nah; not in the traditional sense. The Vampire Hunters concerns a sovereignty struggle, although isn’t as simplistic as red or blue states. It’s more about the state of red blood. The novel is a divertissement devoted to transporting the reader into a nicely delineated world of good versus evil. Diplomacy and sound bites co-exist with deviltry and neck biting. Author Baker has fun with the setting, and the characters; his infectious enthusiasm transfers well to the page.
The capable couple who battle the fanged gang are originally from Boston. While on the police force there, Drake Matthews and Alison Monroe were on a case involving a serial killer. The murderer proved to be one of the undead, and the duo’s dispatching of him cost them their careers in Beantown. Now operating in D.C. and subsidized by a mysterious benefactor, the twosome literally have get out of jail free cards. Whenever they are incarcerated for the collateral damage which is a by-product of the duties, all charges quickly get dropped. They are in and out of the brig in no time, much to the irritation and chagrin of local law enforcement personnel. Since the supernatural is involved, Drake and Alison can’t come clean about the mission; the authorities obviously wouldn’t buy the truth. No fighters of the fearsome can be thoroughly efficient without the help of a brainy geek. And so intelligent and inventive Jim is brought in to augment the operations.
Agile and attractive Alison has a covert crush on Drake. He finds her quite appealing, yet views her as a little too young for him. Enter Jessica, a reporter for a third rate newspaper; she’s bright, beautiful, and more age appropriate. There is a promise of romance, but the focus on slaying supersedes impending intimacy. Besides, Drake’s affections are directed to his current housemate: A pet rabbit named Van Helsing. The critter is the only survivor of a household massacre; the former cop saved it from the animal shelter. Bunny bonding ensued, and Matthews took a cotton to the cottontail. There is a need for the warm and fuzzy; a stabilizing contrast to the febrile frenzy of killing.
The extermination of the nest of nasties is complicated by two vampire masters. An ages old sadistic male and his contentious consort lead the plasma loving pack, and they won’t take a staking lying down. Toni, a seductive redhead, is at odds with the decadent dude who bit and hit on her. She wants control of the coven, since she sees her paramour’s centuries of demented debauchery taking a toll. Infighting aside, the two are adversaries of tremendous strength and guile: More than a match for the intrepid individuals determined to exterminate their kind.
The Vampire Hunters is an energetic tale, laden with lively dialogue and fueled with high octane action sequences. It is easy to get pumped while reading a descriptive passage concerning the perilous excitement of the hunt: “The shock of confronting something that is already dead, the sheer terror and adrenaline rush it generates, the exhilaration in fighting and taking down one of these creatures. And finally, the realization that vampires do exist and you are hunting them. It is truly a life-altering moment.”
Scott M. Baker’s novel is not “life-altering,” still it does captivate with its enlivening prose regarding the undead. The Vampire Hunters gets the blood flowing, without noticeable clotting in the plot.