Friday, March 9, 2012

The Book that Wouldn't End...

It is probably appropriate that Blood and Ice (Bantam Books, 2009; 675 pages), by Robert Masello is a vampire novel. More or less, anyway. Because it was the book that wouldn't end. It went on forever.

Sometimes I like that in a book. When it is a really good story, for instance. Other times...well, let's just say that I only finished this book because I had promised myself I would. I've got to quit doing that.

Now, it wasn't a bad book, exactly. It has an interesting premise: Vampires in the Antarctic. And it cuts back and forth between the story of the two vampires, who come from the mid-1800s, and how they got to be vampires, and the present-day story of the Antarctic research station where writer and photographer Michael Wilde has come to get his career as a journalist back on track and forget that his girlfriend is lying in the hospital in a persistent vegetative state after a climbing accident that he wasn't able to save her from. Only, I found the present-day story much more interesting than the story of Eleanor, a nurse with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, and Sinclair, the soldier who should have fallen during the Charge of the Light Brigade. We find out how they met, how they were parted, how they came back together. But we are given only the slightest hint about how they became vampires. Not all that interesting, at least to me.

The bigger problem with Masello's book was that the end was awfully anti-climactic. I won't say more about that, but while the journey was moderately diverting, the destination left a lot to be desired.

I only picked up Blood and Ice in the library because of the blurb on the front cover of the paperback edition, from USA Today, which described the book as "What would happen if H. G. Wells, Stephenie Meyer and Michael Crichton co-wrote a suspense novel." Sounded interesting. H. G. Wells was promising; whatever you thought of him personally, Michael Crichton did write books that kept me turning the pages, and I figured that the Stephanie Meyer reference meant vampires, and I do like vampire stories. Just not hers. Unfortunately, there was more Stephanie Meyer here than either Wells or Crichton.

Maybe that'll teach me to read cover blurbs, or at least to not take them seriously.


Now, to catch up with what else I've been reading.

I finished my re-read of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Hotel Transylvania (St. Martin's Press, 1978; 252 pages). A much better vampire novel than Masello's book. I had been going to write a joint review of the two books, but this is so much better than Masello's book that I couldn't even begin to compare the two.

If I recall my chronology correctly, this was the second of Yarbro's Count Saint-Germain novels, following The Palace, which I wrote about here previously. This one takes place in Louis XV's court in France, where Saint-Germain takes on a group of Satan-worshipers in order to save a beautiful and innocent girl whose father, a former member of the group, had promised to them to do with as they pleased. I don't love this novel as much as I love The Palace and some of Yarbro's other entries in this series, but it is a good book and I enjoyed the re-read.

I've also recently read a delightful Star Trek novel by Barbara Hambly, Ishmael (Pocket Books, 1985; 256 pages), which sends Spock back in time to the universe of another television series, "Here Come the Brides". I just recently became aware of the book, and considering that I was a fan of both shows as a young girl, I had to read it. If you have any fondness for either show, read this book. It captures the atmosphere of both of them very well, it tells a good story. And we find out something about Spock's ancestry that I found sort of delightful.

Hambly seems to have gotten the idea for the book from the fact that the same actor who played Spock's father in the series, Mark Lenard, also played the resident villain in Here Come the Brides. It was a good idea. Although I am a fan, I don't habitually read Star Trek novels. I'm very glad I read this one.

Another book I finished in the past week or so was Hangman (HarperCollins, 2010; 422 pages), by Faye Kellerman. Another good novel, one in her Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series of police procedurals, some of which I've mentioned here in the past. Kellerman is one of my favorite writers, and this series continues to please.

This installment actually is the book preceding Gun Games, which I wrote about here a few weeks ago. It tells the story of how Gabe Donatti, the son of a physician and a hit man, came to live with Decker and Lazarus, at the same time Decker is investigating a series of murders that seem to point to there being a serial killer on the loose. Except that it very soon starts looking like there are two serial killers instead of one, operating independently. Decker and his team have to sort out the threads of that case at the same time he and his wife are trying to sort out whether or not offering Gabe a place to live is a good idea, considering his family situation, and as Decker gets ready to celebrate his 60th birthday.

As always, with Kellerman's books, I can just say, read it.

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