cover image DEAD ON MY FEET


Wm Mark Simmons, . . Baen, $24 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-3610-6

In this lighthearted and somewhat jumbled contemporary vampire tale, a sequel to Simmons's One Foot in the Grave (1996), vampire Chris Haim has more problems than merely protecting his secret. He must contend with faction fights among the vampires, as well as pursuit by representatives of those factions and by a few other odd beings to boot, and he must distinguish real from fake psychics in New Orleans' voudun community. Haim is also trying to keep his personal relationships straight, since his old lover, Lupe the werewolf, is potentially jealous of his new one, Deirdre, and a jealous werewolf can ruin your whole day. Plots and subplots and vignettes abound, involving Vlad Dracula, Erzebet Batory the Blood Countess, biotechnology and a biowar conspiracy using tailored viruses that makes less than cheery reading in the middle of the SARS epidemic. Simmons's experience in the visual media probably explains the intense development of some scenes that otherwise seem the mark of a first-time author. Readers unfamiliar with Haim's previous outing may have trouble getting into the story, but fans of the early Terry Pratchett or Eric Flint's Joe fantasies will enjoy the humorous bits. (June)