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"The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell" by Robert Dugoni
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The story begins with an arrest of a lawyer named Celeste Maher for the murder of Count Velimir Radojka, a Count fleeing his homeland of Serbia: a murder that bafflingly left no body and no weapon behind. What unfolds in this fast-paced read, through the experience of seasoned police officers, terrified priests, and the denizens of New York’s crime ridden inner cities in the backdrop of a brewing gang war, is a tale of bizzarre disappearances, occult killings, and the existence of an ageless, unspeakable horror that has chosen its newest hunting ground.
Vampir through slow first steps, and a story that picked up its pace to breakneck speed near its close, evoked the feelings of gothic horror, yet woven in seamlessly with crime drama in the gritty streets: a surprisingly good mix of genres that kept me turning pages to see everything to its unnerving end. It was somewhat unusual for me in the realm of reading ease, as I did not seem to realize that the story was a flashback to most of the events mentioned within. But I freely admit that this may be chalked up to the fast pace of the story combined with its brevity, but despite its short length (around 100 pages in all), Dizon wastes no words, and keeps the story moving forward, never letting up. Each conversation, every predicament and turn of events comes to an ultimate meaning, especially the beginning. But of course, that would be telling.
Perhaps this brevity and briskness contains the story’s chief weakness. Though the characters are given a surprising amount of depth for such a short read, to me, it still wasn’t enough to keep myself emotionally invested in them. However, I freely admit that this may be a matter of taste, as the detective genre is not one that I gravitate to. The only exception to this, I felt, was Celeste, whose sympathy for a particular character came off as utterly confounding, and which I puzzled over until the end, when things came fully together. In addition to this, one other issue seemed to give me reason to pause, and this was Dizon’s use of names and nicknames for some of the minor charaters. For how commonplace some of these names might be (though I had never known anyone named such, I felt that choices such as “Iced Tea,” “Will Smith,” and “Beyoncee” were a bit lacking in creativity. But in the grand scheme of things, this is merely a nitpick, and did little to subtract from my enjoyment of the story. But it did make me raise an eyebrow more than a few times. Otherwise, the story was pleasing in how well it was put together, for how brief a read it was.
Rounding things up, I have to say that for a person who is as picky about books –vampire novels especially- as I am, I was glad that I got the chance to read Vampir. Uniqueness is the coin of the realm in such a saturated subgenre. Other authors often use a new angle of the vampire mythos to carry the uniqueness of their respective stories, but Dizon has brought about a uniqueness in both the fusion of two genres into something truly unique, in combination with his tweaks to the mythos as well, yet still holding on to the classic elements that made vampire stories so attractive in the first place. This altogether gave me a pleasant surprise as well as a story that held me for a gritty, suspenseful, and dark ride, as vampire stories were meant to be. Fans of cop dramas and the classic vampire mythos in nearly its purest form will do well to pick this one up.
The plot thickens as corpses inevitably start turning up and our hero, detective Shea, investigates.
I won't give away all of the exciting details, but just let it be said... you don't want to miss out on this superbly written book. There are sequels in the making and I, for one, intend on reading these, also.
I highly recommend this book to all vampire fans and anyone looking for a good scare.
Gaston Sanders, Author
This is the first book I have read from this author but I will be back more.
Most recent customer reviews
This is the fourth book I've read from this author, among them a spy thriller (The Standard), a hostage drama (Tiara),...Read more