July 1959: The occasion is the marriage of Vlad Tepes, Count Dracula. The world's vampire elite have gathered in Rome for the union. Vlad's past wives have included Hungarian princesses, baronesses from California, and even Queen Victoria; all marriages were arranged for strategic gain rather than love or passion. Reporter Katherine Reed is in Rome to write about the wedding. At just under a century old, she is considered young among the immortal vampires. Now, someone is killing the elders, some of whom have bloodlines stretching back to the Middle Ages.
In this alternative history, to "be turned" means persecution. From the beginning of the century--when the vampires first emerged from legend into the public eye--through World War II (when Hitler began targeting the immortals) the vampires continued to be a source of fear and fascination. But vampirism still has its joys. To accept immortality means an extraordinary heightening of all the senses, and blood is both sustenance and narcotic, sexually pleasing and simultaneously nourishing.
Judgement of Tears blends horror and humor remarkably well. Semigraphic scenes of bloodsucking and neck biting are interspersed with humorous name-dropping. Among the guests at Vlad's wedding are a black-clad, gloomy couple named Addams, a British spy named Bond, and Orson Wells. Edgar Allan Poe is living as a scriptwriter; since being turned, he hasn't had an original idea. In the end, Judgement of Tears is as much a tale of intrigue as it is a horror novel. The backdrop is an old story of petty politics, set in a world that vampires, zombies, and even Frankenstein-like monsters share with the living. The flashes of wit serve to anchor the story to the real world and provide a connection to 20th-century popular culture. The ending reminds readers that politics prevail--whether for mortals or immortals. --Andy Bookwalter
From Publishers Weekly
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.
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