cover image Night Hunter

Night Hunter

Michael Reaves. Tor Books, $21.95 (253pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85318-1

What do you get when you stir up the ``bubbling cauldron'' of the ``city of angels and demons'' during Halloween week? Here, you get a series of cliched details and a routine plot. Start with a stake in the heart. Move on to a clove of garlic in the mouth. Add a Satanist, the obligatory drug scene, street people and sex hustlers, and you've got more than enough information to work out your own conventional serial-stalker potboiler. Reaves (Street Magic) attempts to cobble detective story to vampire tale but only manages to drum up a familiar scenario replete with customary characters like Det. Sgt. Jake Hull, the requisite Hollywood gumshoe, recently divorced and working the homicide night shift, scratching the ugly underbelly of L.A. to discover his own ``dark nature.'' He carries psychological baggage from a shooting incident in which he lost a partner and killed an eight-year-old gang member. He and his central-casting entourage pursue a purportedly 3000-year-old man into the hills behind the D in the HOLLYWOOD sign to a predictable resolution among the shambles of an abandoned Aztec-themed movie theater. A subplot involving struggling standup comics segues into the main plot when one of them becomes a victim and another is pursued. Drag in the druids and a casting couch, and you have two more standard touchstones. Though Reaves captures the tone and tenor of the seedy Hollywood scene, it's all been done before. (July)