Staked – J.F. Lewis

J.F. Lewis
Pocket Books, 2008
370 pages

This is the second of two brand new vampire novels I’ve reviewed lately, A Rush of Wings, which I reviewed last week, was the other. As with the first book (by a different author), I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

Eric is a vampire. A vampire who owns a strip club, drive a ’64 1/2 Ford Mustang, and has persistent short-term memory problems thanks to having been embalmed. Unfortunately, that werewolf that he killed while defending himself had connections–and now the pack’s coming to collect payment (and did I mention they’re holy rollers on top of it?). On top of it, his girlfriend, who convinced him to turn her into one of the undead, suddenly just isn’t doing it for him any more. And his partner in the strip club business may not be the best friend Eric thought he was. What’s an undead guy to do?

One would think that a novel featuring a vampire-owned strip club would be pretty predictable. Same goes for vampires vs. werewolves, and, of course, the physiology of the vampires themselves. Lewis manages to not only avoid being predictable, but displays an excellent talent at worldbuilding and characterization. Eric is anything but the seedy, smarmy stereotypical strip club owner. Despite being a vampire, he still deals with very human problems, from love to paying fines and tickets. Additionally, because he’s still relatively young, dying in the mid-20th century, he doesn’t have the “I’ve been dead for so long that my culture of origin no longer matters” copout going on. Instead, the reader is treated to odd cultural references from the 1950s and 1960s, and Eric’s life is still punctuated by reminders of his human life–including his would-be wife, Marilyn, who stays with him even after his undeath.

The plot is fast-paced, too, especially for a not-quite-400-page book. Rather than focusing only on the mystery at the center of the story, Lewis brings in several plot threads and fleshes them out enough to keep them interesting. He wraps them up well, though he leaves a few cliffhangers at the end–which makes me really, really want to read the next book! He has a good grasp of dialogue, too; the characters speak believably and have distinctive voices. The changing first-person perspective brings added depth to the story as a whole, and Lewis has a good sense of when to change narrators.

Overall, this is one of the most entertaining and well-developed novels I’ve read in a good long while. Highly, highly recommended.

Five pawprints out of five.

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1 Comment

  1. January 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

    […] another review here (I agree that Lewis has an excellent sense of dialogue and all of his characters had distinct […]

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