I’m writing up a long post (on a very interesting dystopia from 1920 if you must know), so you get old stuff.
I wouldn’t have picked this one up if I hadn’t seen a favorable review of it by the late Ed Bryant in Locus.
Raw Feed (1990): Bloodshift, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, 1990.
It must be said this book has almost no characterization or, in the case of hitman Granger Helman, we have the clichéd hitman with a heart of gold who fell into his job by accident and rationalized his acts by assuring himself he’s just killing scum — which he probably is. There is also the obligatory romance between vampiress Adrienne and Helman.
But where else can you find a conspiracy of vampires, a secret cadre of ruthless Jesuits, and renegade vampires? I loved this book.
Reeves-Stevens exhibits a keen understanding of science and the world of espionage. His plot of several organizations working at cross-purposes for the same goals because they don’t communicate seemed very plausible for government, especially in its intelligence apparatus. I liked a lot of the plot twists and ideas: the Mafia using their own mortuaries as both legitimate fronts to launder money but also handy crematoriums; the Conclave inculcating psychosomatic superstition into Christianity hence the common vampire superstitions regarding holy water and the cross; the society of vampires where prospective members are kept around as food so the Conclave does not make a mark in the outside world by hunting; a centuries old cadre of ruthless, fanatical Jesuits dedicated to fighting a secret war with the vampirical Conclave; references to a banking scandal in Martinique and the murder of Pope Clement XIV; sunlamps and rocket launching missiles used on that final, great assault on the vampire stronghold; Helman finding out — in a sinking, depressing revelation — that he did not have to worry about the Conclave blackmailing him over his murders since they were all done with the tacit approval of the U.S. government; CIA front companies so successful they contribute a major portion of the agency’s funding; and the last, the neatest, the coolest plot twist of all — the Nevada Project whose side job it is to quell the real truth about cancer: that it’s an accelerating mutation in mankind which will kill most of them off except for the mutant vampire yber who are the next stage in human evolution.
Reeves-Stevens comes perilously close to doubletalk when he speaks of the m-virus being incapable of being contracted through the lungs after it’s already been contracted but that it still can, after the bloodshift of the title, be picked up by cellular receptors in the trachea and intestinal tract. (Perhaps I missed something.)
The Nevada Project puts out misleading information about what causes cancer (everything, as we all know) and either buys off or ruthlessly kills any researcher too close to the truth. This is all done to avoid panic by the public. That clichéd reason for a government conspiracy actually works here since news of an airborne, cancer-causing virus from which there’s no cure probably would unbearably strain the social order. There’s probably room here for a sequel but Reeves-Stevens hasn’t done one yet [and never has].