MANITOU BLOOD, Graham Masterton, 2005, Leisure Fiction, 369pp, paperback
New York hospitals are flooded with people who are deathly ill, throwing up copious amounts of blood. But it’s not their own blood. It’s quickly discovered they are overcome by pain that can only be mitigated by drinking the blood of whoever is at hand. Even then, they eventually die. Then Dr. Frank Winter finds himself visited in the middle of the night by a female patient who was one of the first to sicken…and die.
Across town, tarot reader and huckster Harry Erskine, enjoying a comfortable life hustling little old ladies with glib predictions, finds himself reluctantly again drawn into battle with the supernatural. At least it isn’t the vengeful, immensely powerful spirit of the ancient medicine man, Misquemachus, who he’s faced three times before. The modus operandi is all wrong. Blood drinking? Right?
Masterton’s previous book, Burial, was billed in the cover blurb as the concluding book of the trilogy. But obviously another concept dawned on Masterton and it’s a corker, as they used to say. Post 9/11 New York City finds itself experiencing the inevitable results of a vampire attack, suggested by vampire lore but rarely addressed directly in novels with the notable exception of Robert McCammon.
To Harry’s regret, few understand and accept the true paranormal explanation for what is happening. And, unlike Harry, his friend Amelia is the real deal, although she’s trying very hard to stay clear. (Amelia’s remarried to a Scandinavian and has been doing quite well in the past few books even though she was killed off in the first book of the series, The Manitou. I guess Masterton thought better of dispatching her. If she looked anything like Stella Stevens who played her in the movie made from that first book, 1976’s The Manitou, then I can’t blame him. Besides, Harry needs an expert to consult for guidance ever since his ally, Singing Rock, was killed off.)
Harry provides the narration with humor and less appreciation for his own qualities than the reader develops, especially for his sense of responsibility when he recognizes the source of the destruction and realizes only he can act. He’s a loner and despite the reluctant help he gets from Amelia, he fills the bill as hero quite adequately.
The author of more than 70 novels, mostly horror, Masterton is a British author who rarely seems to slip up any more in his books set in the United States (as he did when he used “lift” for “elevator” in The Manitou.) Some of the novels work better than others…that’s inevitable…and this is definitely in the “hit” category rather than the “miss” side of the ledger.
A fast, thrilling read. I burned out on vampire stories years ago…you should see my college yearbook after amusing myself one year by turning in anthropology papers on vampire legends around the world and doing all my speeches in speech class on vampires. Nevertheless, I found this book a terrific read. I must admit, I’m already pretty sold on Masterton, so that undoutedbly biased me. In fact, in rereading this book, I found it more interesting than upon first reading it when it came out. Check Half.com and Amazon for copies.