cover image Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959

Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959

Kim Newman. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $22.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0558-0

Newman's latest monster mash is the third in a series of fiendishly clever novels (after Anno Dracula and The Bloody Red Baron) set in a world where Dracula lives and the glitterati of history, fiction and film are all his vampire progeny. It's 1959, and the jet set in Rome is aflutter over the impending nuptials of the aging Count, who hopes to consolidate his crumbling kingdom through marriage to the Moldavian princess Asa Vajda. Vampire journalist (and series heroine) Kate Reed is on the scene when a serial killer, the Crimson Executioner, commits the first in a string of brutal vampire slayings that will lead inevitably to Dracula himself. Kate's relentless pursuit of the mysterious murderer acquaints her with Mater Lachrymarum, the city's legendary ""Mother of Tears,"" and a social register of mortal and vampire celebrities, any one of whom could be the assassin. Newman's tale of the decline of the vampire empire exudes the party's-over feel of the Italian postwar cinema to which it repeatedly refers, and Kate's sentimental reunion with characters from the previous novels offers ground for many moving reflections on the vampire/human condition. But as in the earlier novels, the most entertaining moments are those improbable get-togethers that vampire immortality makes possible between real and imaginary personalities, including Orson Welles, Edgar Allan Poe, Elisabeth Bathory, Count Cagliostro and characters who looks suspiciously like James Bond and Marcello Mastroianni. Like the blood gelatto lapped by the undead demimonde, this novel is a rich and fulfilling confection. (Nov.)