The Dark Sleep

P. N. Elrod, Editor, Author
P. N. Elrod, Editor, Author Ace Books $21.95 (359p) ISBN 978-0-441-00591-8
Reviewed on: 05/31/1999
Release date: 06/01/1999
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Times are tough in gangster-run 1937 Chicago, but for Jack Fleming, newsman turned vampire-hardboiled detective, life--or rather death--couldn't be better. In this latest entry in the Vampire Files (after A Chill in the Blood), vampirism's slight inconveniences (having to drink blood from cows at the stockyards, going comatose at dawn, etc.) are far outweighed by its blessings (invisibility, near immortality and so on). Jack's got a great girlfriend--platinum blonde singer/dancer bombshell Bobbi Smythe, who's opening in a new revue at the Nightcrawler Club--protection from the mob and a tidy nest egg with which he hopes to launch his own nightclub. Jack's human partner, however, dapper Brit and former thespian Charles Escott, isn't faring as well. He's mysteriously troubled and going without sleep, although insomnia doesn't prevent him from taking on a case involving retrieving mysterious papers for a saltine-cracker heiress recently engaged to a European prince. Jack's on the case, too, but work takes second place to supporting Bobbi's bid for stardom. Somehow the plot twists into a dark, dangerous journey into Escott's past and the source of his troubled dreams, and only Jack and Escott's longtime pal Shoe Coldfield can save him. Winning characterizations and enough period detail for flavor enhance a clever and fast-paced detective story. Readers acquainted with the series will be particularly pleased to discover more about Escott's background and his connection to Coldfield. New readers will enjoy this one on its own, and gain a taste for earlier (and future) drafts from the same vein. (June)
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