X-Rated Blood Suckers. By Mario Acevedo. Eos. $7.99.
It didn’t take Mario Acevedo long to go from mediocre to mighty good. His first book, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, never quite knew what it wanted to be. It was about a vampire detective who became undead after something horrific that happened in
Wow, did Acevedo improve with his second book, X-Rated Blood Suckers! He dropped the “drink or not drink” idea, replacing it with Gomez’s weary realization that, as a predator, he has no choice but to find prey. He gave Gomez a dose of smarts – he still gets into lots of trouble, but not because of the unremitting dimness that initially made him a less-than-attractive protagonist. And he gave Gomez a sexual focus that not only provides titillation but also gives the books about him some connective tissue. Gomez simply seems to attract sex-tinged cases with more than the usual dose of weirdness. X-Rated Blood Suckers begins with him being hired by porn star Katz Meow (real name: Wilma Pettigrew) to find out who killed her porn co-star, Roxy Bronze. Acevedo throws out coincidence after coincidence to get the story moving – his plots still tend to show their seams – but this time, the holes in the story serve to get it moving rather than to slow it down as it goes. (For instance, it turns out that Gomez encountered Roxy well before her porn days and has pleasant memories of her kindness.) Gomez’s powers have good and consistent value here: he can hypnotize humans and put them to sleep or find out whether they are telling the truth, and his kundalini noir – “that black serpent of energy that animates the undead” – gives him a variety of warnings, although they are not always useful. Gomez finds himself doing the bidding of the shadowy Araneum, which acts to preserve vampires by preventing humans from learning of their existence; he gets entangled with a local vampire biggie who is also a suspect in Roxy’s murder; and there is even some speculation about a land grab as a murder motive, in
And at the very end of X-Rated Blood Suckers, he gets a new assignment from the Araneum – which brings him (and readers) to The Undead