Published by Pyr
Mike Resnick’s John Justin Mallory returns in the second novel (and fifth overall story) in another Fable of Tonight, in Stalking the Vampire. This time around, Mallory’s partner, Winnifred Carruthers, turns up one night looking pale, weak and with a couple of holes on her neck. Mallory takes the case and attempts to find the source of her vampiric bite. It isn’t very long before Mallory deduces the culprit to be Winnifred’s visiting nephew, Rupert.
All of that happens in the very early portion of the novel; Rupert clearly isn’t the root of all the problems. The visiting Vampire Vlad is and much of the novel concerns itself with Mallory’s attempts to track down the elusive powerful Vampire.
This time around, the novel takes place on Halloween, the most celebrated holiday in the Other Manhattan. This makes it more difficult for Mallory to track down blood for Rupert, and to actually find Rupert once he goes missing. This isn’t much of a spoiler since it occurs very early on in the novel. Along the way, Mallory visits a Vampire convention, a writing group comprised of dragons, one of which writes detective stories under a pseudonym, the
In Vlad, Mallory finds an elusive antagonist on equal footing with his chief rival, the Grundy. Thought Vlad is rarely seen, I think Resnick handled his interactions with Mallory quite well as well as the build up to the confrontation. The best scenes, like in Stalking the Unicorn, were when Mallory ‘debated’ the Grundy; these scenes showed Mallory at his best and further built up the looming presence of the Grundy.
Though I did enjoy the novel, I couldn’t read it without finding some faults. At times, the scenes and dialogue seemed too contrived. Some of these scenes didn’t feel as necessary to the plot but rather helped to pay of a pun or joke. I also thought there were far too many asides and which on one hand provided neat details about the Other Manhattan, but ultimately were too distracting from the pacing of the story. I also felt the plot was something of a rehash and the formula of Stalking the Unicorn,, with the Mallory hunting for his nemesis and the resolution of the story. Perhaps I would have enjoyed Stalking the Vampire a bit more if I had waited for a period of time after finishing Stalking the Unicorn, to read the latest Mallory story.
In summation, I still think Resnick has ample grounds to continue stories featuring Mallory in the Other Manhattan. Like the previous volume, Stalking the Vampie has a great cover by Dan Dos Santos lending a hardboiled and pulpy feel to the story. Whether as straight mystery/fantasy hybrid or a send-up and commentary on fantasy and the Urban Fantasy subset in general, the Mallory stories can be quite effective. I would welcome more Mallory stories, but would hold off reading them so close together in the future to reap the full rewards of Resnick’s story.
© 2008 Rob H. Bedford