Archive for murders

33AD: A Vampire Novel By David McAfee – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book that has so many problems. But I did rather enjoy this.

The Romans have taken control of Jerusalem, but the Jewish population aren’t happy about it. A young rabbi named Jesus is causing problems. And a vampire assassin is loose in the city…

Romans, vampires and Jesus. What more could you ask for?

The story begins as a kind of murder mystery as Roman Legionary Taras sets out in search of the murderer of two city guards. He comes across a Vampire Gatehouse, although he doesn’t know what it is, when he follows a man suspected of the murders. That man isn’t a man at all, but a vampire assassin, sent out by the Council of Thirteen to rid the world of any that know about their secret.

What follows is conspiracy, betrayal, murder, lies, more conspiracy, bloodshed, torture, another conspiracy, and treachery.

McAfee doesn’t lack ambitious, the plot involves various nefarious doings and plots by the main characters, and he manages to imbue this ancient world with a realism that holds. The action is plentiful and keeps the pace of the story going along fast enough to take your mind from the various small problems the book has.

And now we come to those problems… As a small-press book you don’t expect the sheen and polish you would expect from a major publisher, so the many typos can be forgiven. The stupidity of some of the characters and their actions becomes a little tedious as it continues throughout the book. The predictability of many of the plot “twists” and ease with which everything falls into place, calling into question the presence of an editor’s firm hand, become sigh-worthy by the end of the book.

There are times when this book will make you groan, as the writer writes himself into a corner and then must abuse his plot to find his way out; there are times when you will sigh with frustration, knowing what is going to happen before the hapless characters falls into the obvious trap or plot twist; and there are times when you will want to scream at the writer to not repeat himself, again, and just get on with telling the story.

And yet these are minor foibles that do take away from the book, but don’t ruin it. This is still an enjoyable romp. With the steading hand of a good editor and a bit of rewriting, this could be a bloody excellent book.

Action, violence, vampire conspiracies, Roman soldiers, lust, murder and Jesus. Surely you can’t want more than that? Shows great promise, and it’s not too difficult to look past the problems and enjoy this lusty, bloodthirsty tale.


THE CHOSEN CHILD By Graham Masterton – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE CHOSEN CHILD By Graham Masterton

In Warsaw there have been a number of murders. The victims have all been decapitated. The police have no clues. When Jan Kaminski hears a child’s cries on a building site he goes to investigate, only to become the latest headless victim of the murderer they are calling The Executioner.

The building site that Jan is killed on belongs to Senate Hotels, an international company who will try anything to get round the various delays that having a murder on your site entail. Sarah Leonard, an American of Polish descent, is determined to pull out all the stops to keep the project on track and on budget. But as more murders take place Sarah finds that the only way to do that is to find out who the murderer is…

Masterton mixes in some history, a bit of gangster warfare, and a nice bit of fraud and treachery to spice things up.

Post-communist Poland is well realised, with lots of intricate detailing adding to the brooding atmosphere of the novel. Some of the best parts of the book take place in the pre-war sewers.

The characters are all present and correct, but don’t really touch you in the way a Stephen King character does. The focus here is on the story, the mystery that unravels as Sarah and her rag-tag bunch of investigators get closer and closer to the murderer, and the sources of other problems.

Despite a weak ending which feels like the publishers have demanded that every loose end is tied up, and what looks to be the Charles Bridge in Prague on the cover, and the strangeness of the villain, this is still a good read. Not many horror novels feature Poland, which is fascinatingly portrayed, and the sewers make one of their best appearances (claustrophobic, atmospheric, tight, stinky, perfect home for a murderer) in horror novel since The Rats.

Overall this is an above average novel that keeps you turning the page, but is ultimately forgettable.