Friday, October 28, 2005

Review: "Habeas Corpses" by Wm. Mark Simmons

Wm. Mark Simmons returns to the tale of his half-vampire hero Christopher Cséjthe in his latest novel "Habeas Corpses" (Baen Publishing, $22).

To catch you up if you're not familiar with previous books "One Foot in the Grave" and "Dead on my Feet," Cséjthe (pronounced Chay-tay, for the uninitiated) was given a blood transfusion from a vampire. The transfusion transmitted half the virus that causes vampirism without fully transforming him, making him unlike any creature seen before. In the meantime, he's caused a lot of trouble for the undead community, including in the last book, becoming Doman of the New York clan of vamps.

This time out, Cséjthe is laying low in his secluded home on the Ouachita River with his werewolf lover Lupé, his vampire protector Deirdre and a 1930s Chicago gangster vamp, The Kid. So far, they've been able to repel all the attempts on Chris' life, but then things take a strange turn. First, there's a psychic e-mail, then a special delivery of a still-beating heart in a jar and finally an attack from a nearly indestructible Frankenstein monster.

It all adds up to a trip to New York to finally take the reins of the vampire community there and try to uncover the secrets of this new threat. He soon finds those may be just the beginnings of his problems.

As in the previous two volumes, Simmons layers the story with multiple villains. There's a classic horror monster, a historical bad guy and a technological terror for Chris to tackle. To avoid giving anything away, I'll leave those up to the reader to discover.

"Habeas Corpses," as you might guess by the title, also delivers the same humor that has permeated all six of Simmons' novels. It's been said of him that he never met a pun he didn't like, and it's absolutely true. Readers will also have a lot of fun picking out the pop culture references littered throughout the book. There's just something too funny about an argument between a vampire and a werewolf about whether Buffy or Anita Blake is the best vampire hunter.

As usual for Simmons, "Habeas Corpses" provides a fun romp through the supernatural, classic horror, science and history. The story raises some serious questions currently being tackled in the real world, but refuses to take itself too seriously, a refreshing trait among vampire novels.

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