cover image VAMPED


David Sosnowski, . . Free Press, $24 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-6253-8

Set in an alternate world where vampires are in charge and humans nearly extinct, Sosnowski's (Rapture ) mildly diverting novel will appeal more to mainstream readers than horror aficionados. Undead Martin Kowalski, killing time at strip clubs and surviving, like all vampires, off blood derived from stem cells, is considering suicide when he encounters a six-year-old human girl, Isuzu Trooper Cassidy. She and her recently killed mother were escapees from a hunting preserve. Unwilling to vamp her (child vampires, aka "screamers," tend to be disturbed individuals), Martin opts instead to provide a good home for the child until she attains adulthood. The author offers both distraction and food for thought, bestowing endless tidbits, inventive explanations and intriguing tangents (why vampires love laser tag; what's involved with air travel when it comes to an all-vampire passenger list and crew) as he fleshes out an otherwise simple, straightforward narrative. Most of the work's broader concepts, unfortunately, are in the hidebound, daylight-avoiding tradition. While it's nice to find out fun facts such as when vampire lunchtime takes place (midnight), the plot is pretty unlikely even in context and the characters essentially one-dimensional. The field of vampire fiction is well-trodden ground, and Sosnowski's tracks leave little lasting impression. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Aug. 4)