Ever since Bram Stoker published Dracula
in 1897, there's been a sexy aura surrounding vampire fiction--the vampire's central interaction with humans is, after all, incredibly intimate--and Anne Rice was one of the first modern writers to boldly push the genre out of the closet, beginning with Interview with the Vampire
. But while Rice's vampire Lestat is a bad boy who sometimes tries to be good, the eponymous character in Ulysses G. Dietz's Desmond
is a good boy who is always trying to be better, although his constant dependency upon the (mostly unoffered) kindness of strangers makes it difficult. Dietz's novel is set in present-day New York, but it also includes several trips into the past, as financial wizard and creature of the night Desmond Beckwith seeks to uncover the hidden secrets of his 250-year life even as he searches for true love with a mortal. Sharp writing and ingenious plotting make Desmond
both scary and charming. --Michael Bronski
From Publishers Weekly
As proven by Dietz's not-quite-undead debut, it takes more than a serial killer and a couple of vampires to give us a chill. There's little tension, no moral conflict and everyone (except the occasional homophobe) is utterly agreeable, including vampire protagonists Desmond Beckwith and Roger Deland. Desmond volunteers for AIDS organizations, never kills his victims and uses his wealth to help peopleAyet for all his niceness, he's unhappy. He's gay and pines for Roger, who's straight, so he picks up beguiling Tony ChapmanAand they fall instantly in love. Since Tony is an unemployed museum curator, they discuss Desmond's antiques in great detail. The insipid dialogue is a showcase for stereotypical camp banter ("You cad"), and even the erotic encounters are disappointingly dull: "Their lovemaking was like a spring breeze to Desmond's winter-bruised soul. They romped happily and intensely until both were exhausted and content." Although they're aware of an at-large gay serial killer whose M.O. is vampiric, there's no sense of danger until near the end, and even that quickly subsides. Two flashbacks, one to England for Desmond's transformation and one to revolutionary Paris, fail to bring those periodsAor this bloodless taleAto life.
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