cover image The Fifth House of the Heart

The Fifth House of the Heart

Ben Tripp. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8263-8

Tripp (The Accidental Highwayman) melds the modern vampire myth with comic mystery and detective fiction in this intriguing and intelligent horror novel. Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang, an aging and immensely wealthy procurer of antiques, has a secret: his astonishing success has come from looting the hoards of vampires, ancient shapeshifting predators who kill with cunning and ruthlessness. When Sax learns of a dangerous unknown vampire attempting to rebuild her own trove, he realizes he’s been marked for death and sets off on a globe-trotting hunt to kill the beast and reclaim her treasure. Tripp’s crotchety, cowardly protagonist, reminiscent of Jonathan Gash’s Lovejoy, is instantly appealing and provides a fascinating viewpoint for the novel’s diverse cast of vampire hunters. The story is exhaustively researched and the prose is rife with dry wit, all the funnier for scholars of history but easily accessible to others. Though sometimes a touch slow in between action scenes, this deep and terrifying vampire story is as nuanced as it is thrilling. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)